‘1.6 trillion wild animals killed annually’

Tea World Animal Protection has called on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) to enact policies to protect the African wildlife from cruelty and exploitation.

The organization’s communication and multimedia officer, Kipkorir Evans, in a statement on Wednesday to commemorate this year’s World Wildlife Day, called on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to enact policies to protect African wildlife from cruelty and exploitation.

“CITES data (2011-2015) shows that around 1.5 million live animals were traded as exotic pets and 1.2 million skins were legally exported,” the statement to PREMIUM TIMES said.

An estimated 1.6 trillion wild animals are killed by humans every year. Tons of animals such as elephants and pangolins are trafficked yearly.

This trade, it said, also poses public health risks, and that about 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, with more than 70 per cent of emerging infectious diseases thought to originate from wildlife.

Zoonosis is explained as an infectious disease that has jumped from a non-human animal to humans.

Zoonotic pathogens can be bacterial, viral or parasitic, and may involve unconventional agents that can spread to humans through direct contact or through food, water or the environment.

World Animal Protection is a global organization advocating for a world where animals live free from suffering.

Edith Kabesiime, World Animal Protection’s wildlife campaigns manager, said “The sheer magnitude of wildlife interference is not only impacting animals, but also the people and our planet. Whether the trade is legal or illegal, it doesn’t matter.”

Either way, she said, it is animal exploitation and abuse.

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“It is for this reason that we call upon the CITES Secretariat and parties to pass resolutions that protect wild animals and not those that exploit them,” Ms Kabesiime said.

The statement highlights that the international demand for Africa’s iconic wildlife is causing millions of animals immense suffering and putting their survival at risk.

It emphasized that the African gray parrots and ball pythons are captured from their natural habitats or born into captivity, to be sold into the exotic wildlife trade which is a growing multibillion-dollar industry that is having a devastating impact on wildlife populations across the world.

“The captive farming and killing of lions in the name of ‘entertainment’, used in unscientifically proven traditional medicine and trophies is not only cruel but also a recipe for extinction as it diminishes conservation efforts of wild population,” the statement said.

Challenges and efforts so far

The statement noted that although there have been challenges in wildlife protection, some progress has been made.

For instance, it said, In 2019, Turkish airlines made a commitment to stop transporting African Gray parrots from Central Africa.

Also, on May 2, 2021, the statement said South Africa made public the high-level panel recommendations on stopping the breeding of captive lions and phasing out lion farms and that Current discussions are on to legislate the recommendations into law.

On 31st August 2021 – Ethiopian Airlines through a direct email response to World Animal Protection promised to review Wildlife transportation regulations in their cargo after the launch of ‘Cargo of Cruelty’ report which detailed how Ethiopian Airlines enables wildlife trade.

In January 2022, it stated that a section of the media covered Kenya Airways (KQ’s) commitment to stopping transportation of monkeys and other wild animals used in scientific research.

“KQ’s announcement came after a truck transporting long-tailed macaque monkeys bred in a farm in Mauritius crashed in Danville, Pennsylvania, attracting criticism from animal welfare crusaders in the United States,” the statement said.

Despite all this progress, the World Animal Protection organization said the only sure way to guarantee protection of wildlife is “Ending wildlife trade, forever.”

While the theme for this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Recovering Key Species for Ecosystem Restoration”, the wildlife protection organization said it is important to recognize and appreciate the fact that every single animal counts and matters.

“Each animal has a critical role that it plays for the health of our planet and has a right to live as a wildlife. Any trade of wild animals is inherently cruel and puts our health and the world’s economy at risk,” the statement read.

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According to the statement, it is high time that CITES parties acknowledged that wild animals are not commodities to be exploited.

It said CITES export quotas provisions need to be completely brought to zero to end wildlife trade and protect wild animals in their habitats.

For the occasion of this year’s World Wildlife Day, at individual level, the World Animal Protection said it is urgent people not to buy, own or breed a wild animal as a pet or even buy trophies and other wild animal derivatives,” it said.

“A life in captivity is a world away from a life in the wild. Wild animals are not commodities; they belong in the wild,” the statement said.

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