Global animal rights campaigners have called on the G20 leaders to end the inter-country trade in wild animals and wild animal products.
The campaigners asked the leaders, who are meeting for the 2020 G20 Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from Saturday, to put in place mechanisms to develop, facilitate and implement a ban on the trade of wild animals.
Edith Kabesiime, campaigns manager at World Animal Protection, said the G20 leaders have an opportunity to end the global wildlife trade once and for all.
“The fate of animals, people, and our global economy rests in the hands of the G20 who are presented with a momentous opportunity — to end the global wildlife trade, forever,” Kabesiime said in a statement issued in Nairobi on Saturday.
She isolated COVID-19 as a pandemic that has threatened humans as much as wild animals.
“COVID-19 is the single worst pandemic that we have faced in our lifetime this century, and it is the result of cruelly exploiting wildlife. We need to focus on tackling the root cause, resetting the balance between people and animals and ending the commercial trade in wildlife — it’s an opportunity that cannot be squandered,” she said.
Kabesiime observed that economics should not be the only reason for a global wildlife trade ban, as the cost of the trade is huge when contrasted with the short-term profits made from the trade.
“The global wildlife trade poses a significant ongoing risk, likely to cause future pandemics, which will have negative repercussions on the global economy, human health and animal welfare,” she said.
Wild animals are often traded as pets, for fashion, entertainment, luxury food and traditional medicine.
But in the trade, the threat of zoonotic diseases is real, according to Kabesiime.
“Wild animals like small reptiles, insects and bats are exploited legally and illegally in the wildlife trade and many major disease outbreaks can be linked to human-animal contact, including Ebola and HIV,” she said.