Boris Johnson is being urged to tell international leaders to stop exploiting wildlife in an open letter signed by Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench on the Campaign to End Wildlife Trade (CEWT)
CEWT, which includes 24 leading animal protection and wildlife conservation groups,including Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, argues that wild animals are being taken from the wild or farmed in cruel conditions to meet the consumer demand for exotic pets, traditional Chinese medicine and tourism.
This demand is a primary cause of the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases like Covid-19, SARS, Ebola and MERS which are all believed to have passed from wildlife to humans and are a severe risk to world health.
The letter has also been co-signed by Sue Perkins, Evanna Lynch, Alesha Dixon, Alison Steadman, Liz Bonnin, Simon Reeve, Mark Carwardine, Ben Goldsmith, Peter Tatchell, Vanessa-Mae, Gillian Burke, Gordon Buchanan, Leona Lewis, Paul O Grady and Michaela Strachan as well as 24 NGOs including World Animal Protection, Compassion in World Farming, Four Paws UK , Cruelty Free International and Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation.
Television presenter and author Simon Reeve said, “This global pandemic has had a devastating impact on all our lives and tackling the source of the problem must be a priority. Ending the exploitation of wildlife for use in the exotic pet, traditional medicine and entertainment industries will take us one huge step closer to safeguarding our health and the future of the natural world.”
Sonul Badiani-Hamment from World Animal Protection, said, “To build back stronger we need to tackle the causes of the virus, avoid the inaction following previous epidemics and work together with countries around the world to end the wildlife trade and help prevent future zoonotic outbreaks. COVID-19 will be at the top of the agenda at the G20 meeting of global leaders in November and we urge the PM to back a global wildlife trade ban to protect billions of animals, our health and the global environment.”
CEWT research found that 86% of Brits would support Boris Johnson calling for a ban, a quarter would feel safer if wildlife trade was banned (26%), 18% are more concerned about the trade since lockdown and over half (51%) were unaware of the scale of the legal trade of protected wild animals into the UK.Whilst the exploitative global wildlife trade is estimated to be worth US $7-23 billion a year , it is economically eclipsed by the estimated cost to the global economy following the COVID-19 pandemic of between US $1-2.7 trillion .
The main drivers behind the industrial scale commodification of wildlife is public demand for wild animals as traditional medicine, exotic pets, entertainment, fashion accessories and food.
Millions of wild animals including snakes, parrots, iguanas, lizards, tortoises, and even otters are captured each year for the exotic pet trade. Wild animals are farmed for Traditional Asian Medicine such as bear bile which has been recommended by the Chinese Government to treat symptoms for COVID-19.
The UK currently imports thousands of protected wild animals, including tortoises, pythons and monitor lizards, captured from the wild and legally imported into the UK each year, according to the group.
About Campaign to End Wildlife Trade
Campaign to End Wildlife Trade is calling for a global wildlife ban to help prevent future pandemics such as COVID-19 and to protect wild animals caught in the multi-billion-dollar trade. The organisations backing these calls are: World Animal Protection, Four Paws UK, Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, Compassion in World Farming, League Against Cruel Sports, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), OneKind, Animal Defenders International, Animal Aid, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Voice4Lions, Cruelty Free International, Catholic Concern for Animals, Action for Primates, Animal Protection Agency, World Cetacean Alliance, The Donkey Sanctuary, Animal Interfaith Alliance, Naturewatch Foundation, Badger Trust, Quaker Concern for Animals, Wild Futures and Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation.
High-profile individuals backing the campaign include Ricky Gervais, Dame Judi Dench, Sue Perkins, Evanna Lynch, Alesha Dixon, Alison Steadman, Liz Bonnin, Simon Reeve, Mark Carwardine, Ben Goldsmith, Peter Tatchell, Vanessa-Mae, Gillian Burke, Gordon Buchanan, Leona Lewis, Paul O Grady and Michaela Strachan.