World Animal Protection is lobbying the federal government to impose a global ban on the wildlife trade into Australia. Beyond the obvious cruelty inflicted on wild animals, the global wildlife trade is a hotbed for zoonotic diseases, making pandemics like the current coronavirus a life threatening proposition. There is little doubt that the wildlife trade industry in food, medicine, pets or entertainment is very big business and estimated to be worth up to $36 billion a year.
In recent research of 1,000 people conducted by pollsters Pure Profile they found that 47% of Australians say wild animals were the origin of COVID-19, followed by a laboratory breakout of the virus (20%) and then those who blamed contaminated food (11%) for the origin of the global pandemic. There is no doubt that this industry by selling animals like dead bats, cooked rats and charred dogs threatens Australian health, its economy and unique biodiversity.
When world wildlife is traded and mixed with domestic animals and humans you can create a hostile viral cocktail of death. Science has proven that over the last 30 years, six pandemics have come from and crossed over from animals to humans. This puts billions of lives at risk and possibly millions could die a slow and horrid death.
The Sydney based pollsters Pure Profile, found that 80% of Australians would support a permanent, global ban on the trade of wildlife while 15% would only support a temporary ban, or are unsure of their level of support and a small 5% of people would not support a ban – permanent or temporary.
While the research was commissioned by World Animal Protection there is little doubt that many Australian’s would agree with their findings and the opinions of their fellow citizens. Nevertheless, the lobby organisation has also launched a campaign urging the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and all other G20 leaders to support a permanent wildlife trade ban to protect wildlife, public health and the global economy.
Ben Pearson, Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection Australia said, “if we learn anything from this disaster, it is that we must practice social distancing from wildlife by leaving them in the wild where they belong. The Australian Government and G20 need to take steps towards implementing a global wildlife trade ban at this year’s G20 Summit. A wildlife trade ban will help prevent future pandemics, saving the lives of millions of people and animals, while protecting our economy,” he concluded.
Fuelling the exploitation and commodification of wildlife is the public demand for wild animals as food, traditional medicine, exotic pets, entertainment and fashion accessories. The public recognises the threat posed by unregulated wildlife wet markets in Africa, Asia and South America. The government is slowly taking limited action and using its bureaucrats to press its opinions through international organisations and their collective forums.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said wildlife markets, defined as markets selling or slaughtering live terrestrial wildlife for human consumption or other purposes, are found globally, and can have significant cultural and food security importance, particularly in developing nations. Mark Schipp, the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer has recently written an open letter to all World Organisation for Animal Health member countries, urging them as soon as is practicable to engage in policy discussions on how they can help reduce the zoonotic risks of wildlife markets within their country.
The government should also continue to strengthen the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and disrupt individuals and crime syndicates who traffic in wildlife and profit from their misery. Concerned citizens can support the campaign of World Animal Protection or if members of the public have any information about exploiting wild animals for profit, trade in illegal wildlife or wildlife products they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Australians can join World Animal Protection in calling for the Prime Minister and other world leaders to end the global trade of wild animals at worldanimalprotection.org.au/wild