Coronavirus and the Wildlife Trade

Coronavirus and the Wildlife Trade

The novel coronavirus has spread throughout the globe, causing catastrophic impacts throughout the world. The ongoing pandemic, which is zootic in nature originated from a live-animal market in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It is speculated the virus is from bats.

The eating of exotic animals is a global practice, and in many countries and communities, it is seen as a symbol of wealth and luxury. The desire for wildlife as food or medicine drives trade in wild animals, some procured illegally, creating a breeding ground for disease and the chance for viruses to leap to humans. This illegal trade has made its way to African countries. Today China is largely responsible for the illegal trade of civet cats, elephant tusks and pangolins in Africa. Over 20,000 kilograms of pangolin scales are trafficked internationally, from Africa every year.

The world’s demand for wildlife products is driving a global trade in endangered species. Africa’s wildlife is suffering and the illicit wildlife trade is now considered the number one threat to many species. The disappearance of animals like elephants, that physically alter the landscape, or apex predators, like tigers, have a far-reaching impact on the ecosystems they inhabit.

More than 70% of emerging infections in humans are estimated to have come from animals, particularly wild animals. It’s not the first time these markets have bred a new disease, and experts said it probably won’t be the last. Severe acute respiratory syndrome, better known as SARS, originated at a similar market in China in 2002. It ultimately claimed nearly 800 lives.

More than 70% of emerging infections in humans are estimated to have come from animals, particularly wild animals.

In light of this virus, we hope the world has learned its lesson and will do more to combat and stop the illegal wildlife trade.

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