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THE BUSINESS OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE

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Covid-19 Concerns Raised Over UK Wild Animal Imports

The import of wild animals for the UK exotic pet trade could risk the further spread of coronavirus in Britain, according to World Animal Protection

Published on September 22, 2020

Tortoise Photo: Ludvig Hedenborg

A new report has raised concerns that wild animals being imported in to the UK could increase the risks of spreading Covid-19 in Britain.

The research, carried out by animal and welfare charity World Animal Protection, found that between 2014 and 2018, "2,492,156 amphibians, 578,772 reptiles, 150,638 mammals, and 99,111 birds were imported into the UK for commercial purposes including the exotic pet trade, from 90 countries including in regions identified as emerging disease hotspots. Countries such as Singapore, Ghana, Indonesia, El Salvador, Cameroon, Nicaragua and Madagascar, annually exported thousands of reptiles and amphibians to the UK over this five-year period."

Discussing the findings, Peter Kemple Hardy, the organisation's Wildlife Campaign Manager, said that "This evidence shows that the legal wildlife trade into the UK is causing suffering to millions of animals and risking another public health crisis. We must not overlook the dangers this poses; harmful and deadly pathogens can be transmitted to humans regardless of a wild animal’s legal status. In a post-COVID world, we should demand nothing less than a global and permanent ban on the commercial wildlife trade, to protect wild animals, human health and the planet."

World Animal Protection note that there are existing regulations against the wildlife trade, including CITES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - however the organisation is arguing that new rules need to be introduced.

To see the World Animal Protection report, go to www.worldanimalprotection.org.uk/news/uk-imports-wild-animals-known-disease-hotspots-feed-exotic-pet-trade

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