According to new research for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), over 90% of respondents surveyed in Vietnam support government-led closure of illegal and unregulated wildlife markets.
Wild birds sold at a market in the southern province of Long An
The research was conducted in the context of the world grappling with the worst public health emergency in recent memory due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A survey conducted in March among 5,000 participants from Hong Kong (China), Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam found that 82% of respondents are extremely or very worried about the outbreak, with 93% of respondents in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong supporting action by their governments to eliminate illegal and unregulated markets.
Questions remain about the exact origins of COVID-19, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed it is a zoonotic disease, meaning it jumped from wildlife to humans. The Chinese government announced a comprehensive ban on the consumption of wild animals on 24 February. WWF research shows that citizens support similar action from other governments across the region. This was the first survey on public opinion about the connection between COVID-19 and the wildlife tradeacross Asia.
According to Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, the public in Asia have spoken - those living in countries where wildlife markets are most prevalent are demanding that wildlife consumption is curbed and that the illegal and unregulated wildlife trade is eliminated. People are deeply worried and would support their governments in taking action to prevent potential future global health crises originating in wildlife markets.
The WHO has reported that the current COVID-19 pandemic, along with at least 61% of all human pathogens, are zoonotic in origin - wildlife trade is an aggravating factor in the spread of zoonoses. Other recent epidemics, including SARS, MERS and Ebola, have also all been traced back to viruses that spread from animals to people.
The unsustainable wildlife trade is the second-largest direct threat to biodiversity globally, after habitat destruction. Populations of vertebrate species on earth declined by an average 60% since 1970, and a 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) concluded that an average of 25% of global species are currently threatened with extinction. Nhan Dan
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