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.



“Sometimes it Falls Upon a Generation to be Great” Nelson Mandela

Freedom Day South Africa 2020

Ocean View, is a suburb situated in Cape Town in South Africa. It was established in 1968 as a township for “coloured” people who had been forcibly removed from so called “white areas” such as Simon’s Town, Noordhoek, Red Hill, Glencairn by the apartheid government under the Group Areas Act.

On the 5th of March 2020 South Africa confirmed its first coronavirus case and in the weeks that followed the infections were mostly confined to suburban areas and largely involved travellers arriving from Europe, the USA and the United Kingdom.

However that has all changed with the arrival of the virus in crowded urban areas where the access to clean water for hand-washing is scarce and self-quarantine practices are the most challenging.




WRITTEN BY: Jared Kukura

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS) released a statement opposing a ban on wildlife trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. ICCS advocates for better regulation of wildlife trade in the hope of benefitting people and wildlife.

There are four main objectives in the ICCS’s statement, three of which should be supported by every organisation.

  1. Prevention of illegal, unsustainable, unhygienic and high-stress use of domestic and wild animal species.
  2. Support of well-regulated, sustainable and cruelty-free trade in wildlife, based on evidence that a particular trade is helping to protect wildlife and their habitats against threats whilst meeting livelihoods and food security needs.
  3. Limitation of destruction of natural ecosystems for agriculture, mining, infrastructure development and urbanisation, working towards halting further loss and restoring nature.
  4. Better management of industrial agriculture, to prevent disease outbreaks in humans and livestock, animal welfare issues, pollution of the land and watercourses, and antibiotic resistance.

But the second objective is a missed opportunity to protect wildlife. The ICCS states conservation efforts need to conform to livelihood and food security needs. However, at this stage in the human game, the opposite is needed. Livelihood and food security needs must be met through alternative avenues and must conform to conservation efforts if we wish to protect wildlife.




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.




WRITTEN BY: Jared Kukura

The current public health crisis is forcing global leaders to reflect on what went wrong and what can be done to prevent future pandemics. Evidence suggests wildlife trade is responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak. But the question remains, what is the best path forward?

Sustainable use advocates warn of potential unintended consequences if wildlife trade is banned. The industry simply needs better regulations from their point of view. However, the notion better regulations can curb the negative effects of wildlife trade is a fallacy. Banning wildlife trade is the only realistic way to protect wildlife and our own species.

Wildlife has diminished around the globe, partly, because of legal and regulated trade. In China, bear bile farming was promoted in the 1980s as a sustainable way to exploit bears while creating a buffer to protect wild populations from poaching. But after decades of trade, China’s wild bear populations are decreasing while the number of bears caged and tortured are increasing. Research shows farmed bear bile has little effect on reducing poaching and may increase the demand for wild bear bile due to consumer preference.



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