Why we need to end the wildlife trade to save us and the planet!
We can no longer deny the importance of ending the wildlife trade. It is widely believed that a wet market was the breeding ground for COVID-19, and this pandemic is simply the latest wake-up call that we cannot continue treating animals like commodities. No one can ignore the danger of eating wild animals, using them as medicine, exploiting them for our entertainment or keeping them as pets.
What are wildlife markets?
There is a lot of confusion around wildlife markets vs wet markets, and we believe it’s important to make the distinction between the two. Wet markets are culturally important open food markets with perishable foods that are common in large Asian cities, but they exist around the world. Wildlife markets are markets where wild animals are sold, often both live and dead, and are sometimes part of a wet market. Wet markets can, but do not necessarily, include wildlife, whereas wildlife market inherently deal with wild animals.
Generally, at a wildlife market, there is a diverse array of live and dead wild animals kept in close proximity to each other, and to people, with animals being butchered live on site.
What are the animal welfare and public health risks?
At markets with wild animals, the animals are kept in crowded cages, and the markets are packed with different species of both wild animals and farm animals. This allows viruses to spread from species to species. Many of these animals would not normally encounter one another, or get so close to one another, in the wild. In addition to the issues presented due to crowding, animals being butchered on site creates further health risks and hygiene challenges.
You may have seen various claims regarding which species is responsible for COVID-19: bats, snakes, pangolins, among others. While scientists have found that pangolins can carry coronaviruses closely related to the pandemic strain, they cannot say with absolute certainty which species is responsible– but that’s not the key takeaway, anyway. The most important thing to remember is that this pandemic can be traced back to how we treat animals and our incorrect perspective that animals can be used as commodities. These conditions for animals exist globally, at wildlife markets, and on intensive factory farms, and it’s time to end it.
How does this impact our planet?
The demand for wild animals for food, the exotic pet industry, tourism entertainment industry, and traditional medicine industry, encourages people to continue to poach animals from the wild, and in ever-growing quantities. For some species, like tigers, this means that more exist in captivity than live naturally in the wild. For other species, like pangolins and otters, this means that they are at serious risk of extinction. Did you know that scientists estimate that more than one million pangolins were killed for the wildlife trade between 2000 and 2013?
This demand for wildlife causes a domino effect, impacting ecosystems around the world. As we’re currently experiencing, this demand also leads to global health crises. We need to end the wildlife trade to save ourselves and our planet. Now and forever.
What you can do to help
As a charity, World Animal Protection relies on your support and donations to continue their work. Please consider making a donation to support their ongoing efforts to end the wildlife trade for good.