For the lab leak theory to be true, SARS-CoV-2 must have been present in the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic started. But there’s not a single piece of data suggesting this.
Drying polar bear skin in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut.
International proposals to ban the trade of polar bear parts undercut Inuit rights, knowledge and decision-making.
Endangered Timneh parrots in illegal trade in West Africa.
Rowan Martin/World Parrot Trust
Social media platforms have enabled wildlife traders to connect as never before. Some operate legally, within the boundaries of international laws. Others are less scrupulous.
White raccoon dogs are prized for their unusual fur.
In China, the wildlife trade is thriving, driven by the increased demands for luxury goods and traditional medicine. But there is real concern about the threat of diseases that can cross over to humans.
Disturbing the habitats of horseshoe bats, like these in Borneo, increases the risk of virus spillover.
How can nations prevent more pandemics like COVID-19? One priority is reducing the risk of diseases’ jumping from animals to humans. And that means understanding how human actions fuel that risk.
We analysed the legal systems regulating the wildlife trade in China. Here’s what we found.
Habitat destruction is the greatest threat to wild species globally.
The pandemic has brought humanity’s strained relationship with nature into sharp focus.
Reptiles are consistently overlooked by regulators of the trade in wildlife, but many face extinction in the wild.
Communities living near protected areas such as Nyika National Park often depend on agriculture and natural resources to survive.
Julia van Velden
Enforcement at protected areas is key way to prevent bushmeat poaching, but it’s also important to recognise the contribution bushmeat makes to livelihoods, incomes and food security.
Pangolins have been found with covonaviruses that are genetically similar to the one afflicting humans today.
Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images
Yellow fever, malaria and Ebola all spilled over from animals to humans at the edges of tropical forests. The new coronavirus is the latest zoonosis.
Protesters hold signs outside women’s fashion designer Eudon Choi in London during Fashion Week in 2017.
The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a harsh light on global commerce in wildlife. But many accounts focus on demand from Asia, ignoring the role of US and European consumers.
Burning confiscated elephant ivory and animal horns in Myanmar’s first public display of action against the illegal wildlife trade, Oct. 4, 2018.
Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images
In the 1800s, Americans hunted many wild species near or into extinction. Then in the early 1900s, the US shifted from uncontrolled consumption of wildlife to conservation. Could Asia follow suit?
Wildlife markets, where live animals are sold and slaughtered, are an integral part of the global wildlife trade.
Ecological systems are at breaking point and a global economic collapse is under way. It’s time to invest in risk mitigation to prevent another COVID-type disaster.
Stressed animals are more likely to harbour new diseases because their immune systems are compromised.
If wildlife trade is forced underground it could become an even bigger threat to public health, fuel black market prices, and accelerate exploitation and extinction of species in the wild.
Government officers seize civets in a wildlife market in Guangzhou, China to prevent the spread of SARS in 2004.
Dustin Shum/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
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.
Barbary macaque and its trainer in Marrakesh square (Jemaa El Fnaa), Morocco.
Wildlife crime is difficult to track but of deep concern since about 60% of primate species are now threatened with extinction.
Illegal trade in wildlife has now moved onto social media.
Social media offers good conditions for wildlife trafficking to thrive.
Simon_g / shutterstock
Saving the rhino means tackling demand for its horn.
Local communities across Africa need to be drawn into conservation decisions to fight wildlife crime.
Local and indigenous communities remain mostly excluded from real benefits, and conservation often comes at a huge cost to them.