Covid Catastrophe Relooking At Wildlife Trade
Saevus|December 2020 - February 2021
With the deadly Covid 19 pandemic, the consumption and trade of wildlife species has been thrown into keen focus the world over; along with our shortcomings in dealing with the same. The article tries to put before us ways to manage the crisis
Dr Balakrishna Pisupati

For several years now, wildlife experts have been warning about the dangers of unregulated wildlife trade and its uncontrolled consumption by humans. It is estimated that the annual illegal wildlife trade is between USD 7 – 20 billion. Currently available regulatory and legal frameworks, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), are grossly inadequate to control such trade and practices.

Wildlife trade ranges from very small, subsistence bush meat trade to large international cartels that trade a large number of species. Recent advances in online trade, including through the e-commerce platforms, have contributed to the menace of such practices globally.

WHY IS WILDLIFE TRADE RECEIVING ATTENTION NOW?

Thanks to the current pandemic caused by COVID 19, the focus and awareness to deal with consuming wildlife has received global attention. Scientific studies that attempted to trace the origins and source of the spread of the virus, has all pointed to the potential jump of the virus from wildlife to humans. Though such migrations are not new in history, the impact of COVID 19 has been deadly and devastating.

Countries such as China and those in Southeast Asia, have started to look at the potential hazards of uncontrolled consumption of and unregulated trade in wildlife, by looking at regulations in domestic markets. This is supported by conservation experts who are suggesting that forests in semi-urban, urban, and rural areas be left undisturbed to reduce the movement of such viruses from wildlife to domesticated animals and humans.

FIVE POINT AGENDA TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF WILDLIFE TRADE

The following are five suggestive ideas to deal with negative impacts of wildlife trade, both legal and illegal, to reduce future pandemics and securing the food for local communities who traditionally depend on bush meat.

a. Regulate legal and illegal wildlife trade

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