The source of the coronavirus pandemic is still hotly contested, but the general consensus is that it was passed from animals to humans. Many deadly diseases begin in animals, such as COVID-19 and ebola, before moving on to humans. Experts believe up to 75 percent of new human diseases originate in animals, and now animal rights activists are urging a trade ban on wild animals in order to prevent another pandemic.
Sonul Badiani-Hamment from World Animal Protection, said: “COVID-19 is a wakeup call for the world – and the case for a global wildlife trade ban has never been more urgent.
“SARS, Ebola and now COVID-19 are all believed to have passed from wildlife to humans.
“Boris Johnson and the UK government must provide global leadership in this public health and wildlife crisis and call for a wildlife trade ban at the G20 meeting of global leaders in November to help prevent future pandemics.”
A statement from the World Animal Protection said: “As well as the public health and conservation risk, wild animals are sentient beings who feel pleasure, distress, excitement, fear and pain and they suffer immensely in the billion-dollar wildlife trade.
“After being stolen from the wild they are stuffed into bags, taken to cramped and unsuitable holding pens and crammed into crates and shipped all over the world with most animals suffocating in the process.
“The global wildlife trade is fuelled by the demand for exotic pets, traditional medicine and the entertainment industry.
“Millions of wild animals including snakes, parrots, iguanas, lizards, tortoises, and even otters are captured each year for the exotic pet trade. Wild animals are farmed for Traditional Asian Medicine such as bear bile which has ironically been recommended by the Chinese Government to treat symptoms for COVID-19.
“The UK currently imports thousands of protected wild animals, including tortoises, pythons and monitor lizards, captured from the wild and legally imported into the UK each year, according to the group.”
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which runs the London Zoo, has also warned for global leaders to learn from the coronavirus pandemic in order to prevent another vicious outbreak, which has claimed the lives of more than 390,000 people.
Dominic Jermey, director general of ZSL, warned: “No-one knows how many infections circulate in wildlife populations or under what circumstances they could create the next human pandemic.
“But if we know the risk factors for zoonotic virus spill-over, we can put in place safety measures to stop it happening in the first place without adversely affecting wild animals in which the viruses occur naturally.
“These links between wildlife and human health are increasingly recognised but still very poorly understood.
“Often public health research, practice and the implementation of policy happens without consideration of how natural systems work, and the pathways through which people’s health is affected by wildlife’s.”