New research shows 80% of Australians want a permanent, global ban on the wildlife trade – an industry that threatens our health, economy and biodiversity.
Beyond the cruelty inflicted on wild animals, the global wildlife trade is a hotbed for zoonotic diseases, making pandemics like the current coronavirus (COVID-19) possible.
World Animal Protection has launched a campaign urging the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and all other G20 leaders to support a permanent wildlife trade ban to protect wildlife, public health and the global economy.
Total global profit of businesses in the wildlife trade industry is estimated at between $11-36 billion AUD each year, but the economic cost of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic dwarfs this. In Australia alone, each week of coronavirus lockdown costs $4 billion AUD in reduced economic activity.
The research, commissioned by World Animal Protection*, also found the most widely accepted origin of the coronavirus among Australians is ‘wild animals’, and 85% understand that wild animals can carry viruses and infections when traded.
Ben Pearson, Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection Australia says:
“If we learn anything from this disaster, it is that we must practice social distancing from wildlife by leaving them in the wild where they belong.
“The Australian Government and G20 need to take steps towards implementing a global wildlife trade ban at this year’s G20 Summit.
“A wildlife trade ban will help prevent future pandemics, saving the lives of millions of people and animals, while protecting our economy.”
Fuelling the exploitation and commodification of wildlife is the public demand for wild animals as food, traditional medicine, exotic pets, entertainment and fashion accessories.
“This pandemic isn’t just about wild animals being sold for food. It’s much bigger than that – it’s about the cruel exploitation and commodification of wild animals for multiple purposes,” Mr Pearson said.
Traditional medicine – of which bear bile and other wild animal derivatives are common ingredients – has an estimated value of $60 billion a year and is thought to account for nearly 30 percent of China’s pharmaceutical revenue.
“The multi-billion-dollar wildlife trade industry has been exploiting wild animals on an industrial, global scale and we are now seeing the true cost of this.”
World Animal Protection has been campaigning for many years to shift social attitudes and change industry practice to stop the exploitation of wild animals for entertainment, medicine and as pets. As part of their work, the organisation supports local communities to transition away from incomes based on wildlife cruelty.
Australians can join World Animal Protection in calling for the Prime Minister and other world leaders to end the global trade of wild animals.
- *Research conducted by Pure Profile (April 2020), who surveyed 1,000 Australians, population proportionate to each state/territory. Statistics are rounded to closest whole percent.
- Check out the Animal Protection Index – an interactive tool that ranks 50 countries worldwide on how well their legislation protects animals. Find out more here.
- The demand for traditional medicine has devastating consequences for many species of wildlife traded globally, including bears who are poached and farmed for their bile, which we investigated in our recent report ‘Cruel Cures’.
- Each year, millions of wild animals are captured from their natural habitats and bred in cruel captive conditions to be traded around the world as pets.
- Our report ‘Wild at Heart’ exposed the suffering involved with the poaching of African grey parrots – some estimates report that 66% of African grey parrots die before they even reach international transit.
Wild animals in tourism
- Approximately 11 million people each year pay to watch elephants perform tricks in Thailand, and 46 million people have paid to see dolphins at a venue at least once in the last 4 years.
- Prices of elephants used for rides have sky-rocketed to over $50,000, and a single dolphin can generate anything between $400,000 and $2 million per year for entertainment venues such as SeaWorld.