In recent years, the illegal demand for wildlife has been rapidly increasing to unmatched proportions. The ongoing black market trade over exotic animals not only threatens the global biodiversity and the entire ecosystem, it also contributes to the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases—like the novel coronavirus (nCoV-2019).
Research has found that 75% of the emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic—or coming from animals. It comes as most animals in the wild serve as reservoirs of microorganisms that, when transferred to humans, may emerge as a public health threat. In fact, it was recently revealed that the deadly nCoV-2019 outbreak can be traced to from one of the world’s most trafficked and endangered mammals, the pangolins.
Latest research conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas has identified the pangolin as the potential source of nCoV-2019. After analyzing more than 1,000 samples, scientists found that 99% of the genome sequence of the virus in pangolins is identical to what the infected people have. In China, the long-snouted, ant-eating mammals are often used for traditional medicine and are also considered as a delicacy.
Stop the trafficking, stop the demand.
Changing the world’s perception on exotic and wild animals can help decrease and mitigate not just the illegal wildlife trade, but also the onset of fatal diseases. True enough, while changing a behavior—or even a tradition—will not happen overnight, each one of us can still make it happen. The first step lies in discouraging the sale and consumption of wild animals.