Friday, 3 April 2020

Who is responsible for Coronavirus: CHINA and the international trade in wildlife

Make no mistake about it. The reason that around a third of the world's population are currently in a coronavirus lockdown and 87% of the world's children are missing out on a proper education is because of the illegal international trade in wildlife.

The reason that the world economy is crashing, that international and local travel is forbidden is because of the illegal international trade in wildlife.

The reason that you cannot walk in the mountains, surf at the beach, go to football matches, ski down the slopes or cycle through the woods is because of the illegal international trade in wildlife.
The reason that millions of us will likely lose our jobs and some will lose their houses and families is because of the illegal international trade in wildlife.

Pangolins, the world's most trafficked animal and a likely cause of coronavirus, live baby chimps and other apes for the illegal pet trade, elephant ivory, rhino horn or lion claws and any host of other creatures used as 'bush meat' or in traditional medicine are all examples of this illegal trade. Many of these products are smuggled around the world destined for one country: China.

Coronavirus originated in the wildlife markets of China and no other country on Earth shows such blatant disregard to international law on the wildlife trade than China. It’s China’s attitude to wildlife, and the environment in general, that has directly led to coronavirus and the catastrophe the world currently finds itself in. This is not even the first time China's insatiable desire for illegal wildlife products has led to major health emergencies (remember SARS and bird flu among others?) and if they are allowed to continue unchallenged then it won't be the last time. After the SARS outbreak China said they would ban the trade in wildlife, but as soon as the world eased off the pressure they went back to old ways. Last month China again announced that they would ban this wildlife trade, but even before the coronavirus disaster has even peaked they are reverting on that commitment and actually suggesting that bear bile can be used to counter coronavirus! Yes, you read that correctly (see link here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/…/chinese-government-p…/…).

The Chinese authorities are perfectly aware of this trade yet do little to really prevent it because the world does not really put enough pressure on them. For many of us across the world right now our governments are insisting that we stay indoors. Most countries have drafted in very strict rules on what we can and cannot do and the authorities are fining us for small infringements. We have in many ways had our freedoms removed. But, are any of our governments demanding compensation from China? Are any of our governments insisting that China change its ways? Are any of our governments asking China to apologise? No, in general, they are not. China is wholly responsible for this current mess (they even suppressed news of the outbreak when it first started) and China should be shamed and made to pay for their crimes until they crackdown on the illegal trade in wildlife forever.

Our governments will not stand up and point the figure at China for this unless their own citizens demand it, That means you and I. But if China is not shamed into cracking down on this trade and changing their environmental outlook then it’s only going to be a matter of time until another virus explodes out of the exotic wildlife markets of China and sweeps around the world. And the next time it might not be something as ‘tame’ as coronavirus with its 1-2% mortality rate. Next time it could be something along the lines of Ebola with its 60%+ mortality rate.

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