Ending Wildlife Crime to Protect Animals, Human Health, and the Planet
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Among the many challenges to human well-being and security, biodiversity loss and wildlife trade don’t often make headlines. While COVID-19’s origin story shined fleeting attention on the link between wildlife trafficking and zoonotic disease, the focus quickly shifted to the staggering, ongoing human toll of the pandemic and its economic devastation. But as the last 18 months have shown, human health is inextricably linked with the planet’s entire web of life. New infectious zoonotic diseases that jump between animals and humans are emerging with growing frequency, and the conditions that create disease risk are often overlooked in traditional approaches to human health and national security.
Human behavior—including agriculture, rapid urbanization, and deforestation—has transformed the Earth’s land surface, altering ecosystems and causing unprecedented biodiversity loss. Only 3% of the world’s land remains ecologically intact. This brings humans, livestock, and wildlife into close proximity, exposing each to pathogens they have no immunity to. At the same time, with inadequate wildlife trade laws, poor enforcement, and the absence of a global agreement on wildlife crime, animals are pulled from the wild and sold as food, medicine, tourist souvenirs, pets, and other products in a lucrative international black market trade.
At this meeting, experts will share the ways that thousands of species and fragile ecosystems are falling victim to wildlife crime and trade. It will also examine how creation of a global agreement could help end wildlife crime, prevent the escalating extinction of species—and possibly prevent the next pandemic.
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