Ahead of the G20 Agriculture Ministers meeting this week, World Animal Protection, along with Humane Society International (HSI) and Animals Australia, is urging Australia’s Minister for Agriculture – David Littleproud – to seek support for a global phase-out leading to a ban on the trade in wild animals.

A joint letter was delivered to Mr Littleproud last Friday which acknowledges Australia’s leadership on measures to prevent future pandemics but calls on the Government to go further.

The animal welfare organisations are urging Littleproud to seek a phase-out – leading to a ban – of the trade in wild animals, specifically mammals and birds, as well as the immediate cessation of particularly high-risk activities such as wildlife wet markets.

Ben Pearson, Head of Campaigns for World Animal Protection said that the Minister has been a “strong voice in addressing the risks of zoonotic diseases, but at this week’s G20 Agriculture Ministers meeting he needs to go further and advocate for a global wildlife trade ban. The Australian Government’s current focus is on reforming the wildlife trade, but ultimately this trade must end or it will fuel future pandemics. The G20 should lead on making this happen.”

Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns in Australia for Humane Society International commented that “we were right behind the Australian Government when they came out of the blocks early in the pandemic calling for a phase out wildlife wet markets. We strongly support them staying the course to secure this goal worldwide. The stakes are too high for animal welfare, conservation and human health to allow wild animal trading to continue, she said.”

These calls are widely backed by the Australian public. Research commissioned by World Animal Protection*, reveals 80% of Australians want a permanent, global ban on the wildlife trade.

The signatories of the letter also want to see measures introduced to safeguard the livelihood of those who are dependent on wildlife trading, particularly in developing countries.

“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,” Mr Pearson said.