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.