Wild animals and animal parts are bought

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  • 02 Apr 2020
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Opinion: the New Coronavirus Emerged From the Global Wildlife Trade – and May Be Devastating Enough to End It

Wild animals and animal parts are bought and sold worldwide, often illegally. This multibillion-dollar industry is pushing species to extinction, fueling crime and spreading disease. The virus’s spillover to humans is believed to have occurred in a so-called wet market in China. At these markets, live, wild-caught animals, farm-raised wild species and livestock frequently intermingle in conditions that are unsanitary and highly stressful for the animals. These circumstances are ripe for infection and spillover. The wildlife trade’s disease implications have received less popular attention over the past decade. This may be because bushmeat trade and consumption targets less-charismatic species, provides a key protein source in some communities and is a driver of economic activity in some remote rural areas. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government has enacted strict regulations designed to end wildlife trade and its associated risks. China has announced a temporary ban on all wildlife trade and a permanent ban on wildlife trade for food. Vietnam’s prime minister has proposed a similar ban, and other neighboring countries are under pressure to follow this lead. Terminating the damaging and dangerous trade in wildlife will require concerted global pressure on the governments that allow it, plus internal campaigns to help end the demand that drives such trade.

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