Protect wildlife, prevent pandemics
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the global public health crisis is reshaping society. Scientists expect that other diseases will emerge, as wild habitats continue to shrink and we find ourselves living in increasingly closer proximity to wildlife.
It is now clearer than ever that conservation is an issue of public health – the urgent need to protect wildlife is necessary to prevent future pandemics.
The global trade in wild animals produces the conditions for disastrous and deadly pandemics, including COVID-19. From source to market, conditions in the supply chain for wild animal consumption in urban areas – both legal and illegal – pose a high risk for the emergence and transmission of zoonotic pathogens.
The illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion-dollar global industry threatening many species and the time is well overdue to end the commercial wildlife trade and prevent future zoonotic disease outbreaks.
Over the past 20 years, WildAid has worked to end the illegal wildlife trade by reducing demand for these products with high-impact media campaigns to change consumer behaviour and strengthen legal protection. We have launched the Protect Wildlife, Prevent Pandemics campaign to end the commercial trade and sale in markets of terrestrial animals for consumption.
In China, the government has prohibited the sale of live animals in markets and recently upgraded legal protections for pangolins to the highest level.
Last February, as the potential COVID-19 connection to wildlife was announced, our video message highlighting the potential health risks of consuming pangolins was viewed by over 20 million in just a few days. Millions of people across China called for an end to the wildlife trade.
WildAid and its partners, the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Pangolin Crisis Fund, reached over 100 million consumers with video messages, billboards and social media campaigning - including a series of outdoor advertisements reminding the public to protect pangolins and never consume them.
In Vietnam, WildAid and our local NGO partner CHANGE have assisted the government with a Prime Ministerial directive prohibiting any hunting, transporting, slaughtering, selling, buying, storing, consuming, or advertising of wildlife, including online sales.
To further help educate the public, WildAid, CHANGE, and the Pangolin Crisis Fund launched a series of educational campaigns, including The Host campaign with influential Vietnamese ambassadors that urged people to stop consuming wildlife in order to help prevent similar pandemics in the future.
To tackle the global reach of the trade, WildAid, Global Wildlife Conservation, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) last year founded The Coalition to End the Trade to urge the world’s governments to recognise that ending the commercial trade and sale in markets of terrestrial wildlife for consumption is among the most important decisions we can make to prevent future pandemics.
Our new campaign ‘Protect Wildlife, Prevent Pandemics’ can help you learn more about our work to end the wildlife trade and about what you can do to help prevent the next pandemic.
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