On Monday 20th April 2020, Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) signed an End of Trade declaration via endthetrade.com. This is a form of support towards the government to permanently end the wildlife trade which is responsible for the decline of many endangered species, and likely the cause of the current pandemic. This petition was initiated by Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), who is also a BNF partner.
“The declaration calls for an end to wildlife trade, especially of mammals and birds, for 3 main reasons. The trade is decimating wild populations, wildlife markets where meat is sold for food are a source of disease transmission, and disease outbreaks from wildlife markets can cause global economic losses impacting poorer countries more. In this global world we need to protect our biodiversity,” said BNF International Co-director, Dr. Susan Cheyne.
For biodiversity, the wildlife trade removes billions of animals from their homes, often leaving forests empty and even transmitting diseases to other wildlife species, including our relates, the great apes. The spreads of zoonotic diseases are exacerbated by the commercial trade of terrestrial wild animals (particularly mammals and birds), especially for consumption, which causes further habitat destruction and climate change. These threats drive humans and animals into closer proximity.
Left: Sunda pangolin photo recorded by BNF’s Camera Trap in Sebangau Forest;
Right: Small-toothed palm civet photo by Pau Brugues Sintes | BNF | UPT LLG CIMTROP
The animals that are frequently traded are pangolins, civets, many primate species, yellow-breasted buntings and bears (moon bears and sun bears). One of the severe consequences of the current wildlife trade is the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and as revealed by WHO, pangolins are the virus’s first hosts.
There are 3 main ways in which the wildlife trade can cause the spread of diseases;
1. Wildlife Capture; Animals are captured and taken to commercial markets to be sold for various uses, such as consumption.
2. Pathogen Exchange; When humans hunt wild animals or destroy their home, these viruses and other pathogens can jump species.
3. Reservoirs of disease; wild animals that appear healthy can harbour diseases that can make other animals, including humans sick. When terrestrial animals are forced together at markets, they can spread the disease.
According to Susan, the End of Wildlife Trade is considerably important for the world because humans are linked to the natural world and to each other in a multitude of ways. We have a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure a future for our children. Protecting wildlife and ensuring the health of humans is important for the security of our future.
“I understand many people rely on bushmeat for their protein in their food so wildlife conservation is linked to alleviating poverty too. I would like to see a global change in how we view our wildlife as this is a global issue, not only for Indonesia to solve but for everyone to come together to help,” Susan emphasises.
We encourage people to read the petition in full to understand the reasons for wanting to ban wildlife markets and to sign their names to help this petition reach governments and decision-makers.
Wild orangutan in Sebangau Forest – Photo by Axel Favor | BNF | UPT LLG CIMTROP