Worried about the ongoing havoc coronavirus pandemic is wreaking globally, the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF), along with other conservationists, has canvassed urgent action against illegal wildlife trade, saying that the deadly virus is suspected to have originated from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.
The Foundation, which is the foremost environmental membership-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Nigeria, noted in Lagos that China has already taken commendable steps and banned the trade and consumption of wild animals, pending formalization of this ban into law later this year.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives through the COVID-19 pandemic and our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones, or who are sick and we wish them a speedy recovery.“ said Muhtari Aminu-Kano, the Foundation’s director general.
According to the foundation, wildlife trade was reaching unprecedented levels, advising that while efforts were being made to combat this trade, national governments should enact effective laws that clamp down on this trade.
Globally and particularly in Africa, illegal wildlife trade continues to be a growing multi-billion-dollar business. Statistics indicate that illegal wildlife trade globally generates between $7- $23 billion annually.
It is estimated that one out of every four bird or mammal species globally is caught up in wildlife trade. In Africa, it involves trade and trafficking of elephant tusks and rhino horn, pangolin scales, bush meat, tropical timber and endangered birds, including vultures.
Among other consequences, wildlife trade is said to be increasingly driving species to extinction, and destroying biodiversity. The trade also threatens rural community livelihoods, hampers development efforts, and puts ecosystems at risk.
“Perhaps, one of the frightening realities of this trade is the threat that it poses to the health of human beings, through spread of zoonotic diseases – diseases that jump from animals to human beings. In recent past, the world has seen the emergence of animal- borne infectious diseases such as SARS, Nipah, Ebola and Lassa Fever,” notes Stoyan Nikolov, EV New LIFE project manager/BSPB.
Nikolov hopes that enacting effective laws to clamp down on the illegal trade will go a long way in ensuring protection and conservation of species and, perhaps, help reduce occurrences of zoonotic diseases in the future”, notes Stoyan Nikolov, EV New LIFE project manager/BSPB.
Internationally, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) provides a legal framework to regulate trade in wild animals and plants.
Internationally, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) provides a legal framework to regulate trade in wild animals and plants. African countries which are party to the convention should consider mainstreaming various aspects of combating wildlife crimes, in line with CITES, into their national laws and drive strong enforcement of this legislations.
“Banning wildlife trade in addition to more public awareness on the impact of this trade on biodiversity and the risks that this trade poses to human health is important. As a result, decisive action to stop the trade should be taken”, notes Cloé Pourchier, Project manager of SCF.
“The role of national government, local communities, traditional institutions, conservation organizations, civil society organisations and businesses is critical in halting wildlife trade across the continent. Most importantly, is for authorities to implement policies, enforce enacted laws and put in place effective monitoring systems to check illegal wildlife trade across the continent.
Wildlife trade transcends national boundaries; hence co-operation among countries is critical for success”, says Rebecca Garbett, Vulture Conservation Manager at BirdLife.