Wildlife Trade and Consumption Comes to a Halt Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Wildlife trade has been long promoted in China as a form of rural economic development. To be precise, this illegal trade of wild animals has been a part of China for more than 40 years.
However, after the coronavirus that has created a havoc globally emerged from the wildlife market of Wuhan city in China, the wildlife trade industry came to a standstill. In January, the Chinese government freezes the sale and consumption of wild animals.
Later in February, the government initiated a permanent ban with a decree titled, “Comprehensively Prohibiting the Illegal Trade of Wild Animals, Eliminating the Bad Habits of Wild Animal Consumption, and Protecting the Health and Safety of the People.” However, the ban does not apply on the trade of animals as pets, and for traditional medicine.
Southeast Asia is considered to be the epicentre of wildlife trade, which is a multi-billion-dollar industry. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a public poll conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) revealed that 93 percent of the respondents supported the closure of markets selling illegal wildlife.
About 5,000 people participated in
the survey by WWF conducted across the Southeast Asian countries as well as
Japan and Hong Kong in March. The participants said unregulated markets selling
wildlife should be shut down to thwart future pandemics.
WWF’s Asia Pacific director Christy Williams said, “This is no longer a wildlife problem. It is a global security and human health and economic problem.”
Maximum support for the closure of the illegal industry came from Myanmar, where wildlife trade has been taking place openly in the autonomous regions bordering China.
“COVID is a wake-up call,” said Grace Hwa, Illegal Wildlife Trade Programme Manager at WWF Myanmar. “The rampant unchecked trade in wildlife is a risk not only to health and the economy, but to the entire stability of the region.”
Wildlife trade and destruction of natural habitat are the two major reasons behind the rise of zoonotic diseases – those that are passed from animals to humans, like HIV, Ebola, COVID-19 and SARs. The participants from Vietnam claimed to have stopped consuming wildlife products following the coronavirus crisis. The prime minister of Vietnam has called for a ban similar to that imposed by China, banning wildlife trade and co
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