COVID-19 AND THE WILDLIFE TRADE IN SOUTH AFRICA

CALL TO THE G20 TO SUPPORT A BAN ON THE INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE TRADE AND AN IMMEDIATE PERMANENT CLOSURE OF WILD ANIMAL MARKETS

3RD AUGUST 2020

THE EMS FOUNDATION AND THE WORLD ANIMAL PROTECTION ORGANISATION ADDRESS A PETITION TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, HIS EXCELLENCY CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, MEMBER OF THE G20 AND CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION

We, the EMS Foundation and the World Animal Protection – Africa, with the endorsement of the undersigned African organisations, request President Cyril Ramaphosa―as a member of the G20 and as Chairman of the African Union―to support a G20 ban on international wildlife trade and an immediate and permanent closure of wild animal markets.

Scientists agree that a genomic comparison suggests that the SARS-Cov-2 or COVID_19 pandemic is the result of a recombination between two different viruses, meaning that the exact origin of the virus is unclear.

In December 2019, 27 of the first 41 people
hospitalized with the virus passed through a food market located in the heart of Wuhan city in Hubei Province in China. The vendors at this market brought a variety of live wild animals together for purchase, slaughter and consumption. The scientists are still not sure in which animal species the virus occurred, bats and pangolins could both have been the reservoir for the virus.

The COVID_19 pandemic has overwhelmed health systems and economies across the world. The crisis is still affecting the global economic structure in ways that will last for decades to come.

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of physical access to key sources of goods production. More activity will become virtual and therefore global but at the same time the production of physical goods will become national.

All available evidence for COVID_19 suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a zoonotic source. Since there is usually limited close contact between human and bats, it is more likely that transmission of the virus to humans happened through another species, on that is more likely to be handled by humans.

READ THE FULL LETTER:

This petition is authored and signed by:

Tennyson Williams – Director – World Animal Protection, Africa and Michele Pickover – Director – EMS Foundation

This petition is supported by the following organisations:

Ban Animal Trading – South Africa – Smaragda Louw

Four Paws Animal Welfare Foundation – South Africa – Fiona Miles

Humane Society International – Africa – Tony Gerrans

Future 4 Wildlife – South Africa – Stefania Falcon

Global March for Elephants and Rhinos – South Africa – Megan Carr

Animal Law Reform South Africa – Amy P. Wilson

Baboon Matters – Jenni Trethowan

Beauty Without Cruelty South Africa – Toni Brockhoven

Centre for Animal Rehab and Education – South Africa – Samantha Dewhirst

South Peninsula Customary Khoisan Council – South Africa – Stephen Fritz

Global White Lion Protection Trust – South Africa – Linda Tucker

Institute for Critical Animal Studies Africa – Les Mitchell

Monkey Helpline – South Africa – Steve Smit

Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching – Kim Da Ribeira

Sea Shepherd South Africa – Prathna Singh

Southern African Fight for Rhinos – Lex Abnett

Vervet Monkey Foundation – South Africa – Dave Du Toit

WildAid Southern Africa – Guy Jennings

African Climate Alliance – South Africa – Said Irux

GFG Environmental Education – South Africa – Jabu Myeni

Parliament for the People, Regenerative Farming and Climate Justice in South Africa – Vivien Law

Youth Climate Group – South Africa – Sera Farista

Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute – Francesca De Gasparis

Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations – South Africa – Rehad Desai

Extinction Rebellion South Africa – Anita Khanna

Panthera Africa – South Africa – Catherine Nyquist and Lizaene Cornwall

Dr Brett Bard – Veterinarian, South Africa

South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public and Human Rights International Law – South Africa – Professor David Bilchitz

Advocates 4 Earth – Green Law Connect, Zimbabwe – Lenin Chisaira

Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation – Nomusa Dube

Elephant Human Relationship Aid, Namibia – Rachel Harris

Dr Ross Harvey – Environmental Economist, Botswana

Hands-Off Fernkloof, South Africa – Peter Hodgskin

Mutare SPCA, Zimbabwe – Lynne James

WildlfeDirect, Kenya – Dr Paula Kahumbu

Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa – Jmi Karani

Conservation Kenya – Dr Winnie Kiiru

Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya – Kahindi Lekalhaile

Giorgio Lombardi – Vogelgat Nature Reserve – South Africa

Advocate 4 Earth, Zimbabwe – Linda Masudze

Bring the Elephant Home – South Africa – Antoinette van de Water

Professor Dan Wylie – Rhodes University – South Africa

© 2020 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved.

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WHO STANDS TO BENEFIT, IF THE WILDLIFE TRADE CONTINUES?

 WRITTEN BY: Jared Kukura

There is a clear divide in the conservation world. Despite most organisations agreeing wildlife trade caused the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no consensus on the path forward.

An open letter released by the Lion Coalition called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to “release a formal position statement containing clear advice to governments to institute comprehensive and rigorously enforced bans on live wildlife markets and to close down the commercial wildlife trade which poses a risk to public health.”

However, a rebuttal in the form of another open letter addressed to the WHO and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) cautioned against banning wildlife trade. This letter, published by Resource Africa, stated “It is vital that any actions taken are appropriate and lead to socially just outcomes which contribute to – not detract from – the development of economically resilient livelihoods for those hundreds of millions of the world’s most vulnerable who depend on wild resources for their survival.”

On the surface, it sounds like the position taken by Resource Africa’s letter is an appropriate middle ground. They warn not to imperil those impacted most by the current pandemic with a solution that makes their lives even worse. However, the stance taken by the Resource Africa letter fails to grasp a problem inherent in today’s world, economic growth.

Economic growth is not compatible with the conservation of biodiversity. Additionally, people living in rural communities are most at risk of adverse impacts from biodiversity loss and it is clear economic growth is not the answer for improving rural livelihoods.

Promoting wildlife trade as an economic benefit does a disservice to those hundreds of millions of vulnerable people the Resource Africa letter claims to want to help. The Lion Coalition letter has the correct position, we must ban wildlife trade to protect biodiversity and those living in rural communities all around the globe.

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EMS FOUNDATION APPEALS FOR MORATORIUM ON THE LION BONE INDUSTRY

Legal Representatives of EMS Foundation Appeal to the South African Government

Letters have been written to the offices of Minister Barbara Creecy, Minister of the Enviornment, Forestry and Fisheries, to the offices of Minister Zwelini Mkhize and the offices of Minister Thoko Didiza.

The letters were sent to the South African government by the EMS Foundation and by their legal representatives Cullinan and Associates.

The subject matter of these correspondences relates specifically to the dangers to human life with regard to diseases and the wildlife trade.

Epidemiologists have long considered a pandemic like COVID_19 to be an inevitability and there is consensus that without massive changes to public health regulation a pandemic of zoonotic origin will happen again.

Until there is more information available about the risks of the captive breeding of lions and other big cats and the lion bone trade, both in terms of human health and to the survival of lions, a risk-averse and cautious approach requires that a moratorium is placed on the industry as outline above.

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