Many of recent history’s deadliest diseases have spread to humans through wildlife, such as HIV and Ebola originating from bush meat, SARS deriving from civet cats, and MERS from camels. These diseases are all zoonotic, meaning they have spread from animals to humans. In wildlife markets, zoonoses are commonplace due to the unhygienic, cramped conditions the animals are kept in. Dozens of different animal species are stacked on top of one another in cages, mixing faeces, urine, blood, and ultimately pathogens, providing the perfect breeding grounds for deadly viruses to spread to human populations. In fact, around a quarter of human deaths are caused by infectious diseases. Of these deaths, almost 60% are zoonotic, and of these zoonoses, over 70% are from wild animals. If we are to prevent another deadly pandemic, we must tackle the root cause and close high risk live animal markets across the globe.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The good news is that nearly 30% of people surveyed across China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, and the United States say they have consumed less or stopped consuming wildlife altogether because of COVID-19. More specifically, 28% of those surveyed in China consume less wildlife, and numbers have nearly doubled in Thailand, jumping from 21% in 2020 to 41% in 2021 who no longer consume wildlife. Fortunately, 85% of those surveyed also back efforts to close high-risk markets selling wildlife, while 88% want to see the end of deforestation as root drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks.
We know that the way we treat animals directly impacts our health. With 75% of all pandemics originating in animals, we must call on governments and decision-makers to ensure this pandemic is a turning point to improve our relationship with animals and nature.
Please sign our petition to demand a better world for animals and humans alike, because when they suffer, we suffer.