The epidemic of new coronavirus pneumonia, originally born in Wuhan, is a new round of public health crisis after SARS in 2003. Preliminary information from the national CDC and professional researchers suggests that the source of the new coronavirus, like SARS, points to the wildlife trade market.
In fact, scientific studies have shown that new infectious diseases such as Hendra, Nipah virus, H7N9 avian influenza, Ebola, MERS, etc. have emerged around the world in recent years. Statistics show that more than 70% of new infectious diseases originate from animals. These viruses were originally present in nature, and wildlife hosts do not necessarily cause disease to kill, but because humans eat wild animals, or erode wildlife habitats, these viruses have increased significantly in contact with humans, creating conditions for the spread of the virus from wild animals to humans, endangering public health safety. This, combined with the ease of transport ation and the movement of people, greatly increases the chances of an epidemic.
It can be seen that controlling and even eliminating the consumption and related trade of wild animals is not only the need for ecological protection, but also of great significance to the risk control of public health. In view of this, we call on wildlife authorities and law enforcement authorities, as well as market regulators, to play a greater role in managing the illegal trade in wild animals from the source and to comprehensively eliminate the illegal consumption of wild animals.
Our recommendations are as follows:
1. As soon as possible, the national wildlife authorities and market regulators and disease quarantine departments jointly enforce the law, strictly check the status of wild animals and their products currently traded on the market, crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade, as well as the illegal operation of restaurants, and make relevant information publicly available, Create public and social pressure.
2. In the long run, it is necessary to raise the risks posed by wildlife trade and consumption as a public safety issue, with the NPC and government authorities establishing more robust regulations and management mechanisms, while educating society as a whole and consumers on health, safety and ecological protection awareness. Here’s how:
a) The competent wildlife authorities shall establish a long-term mechanism for auditing and supervising the operation of the licensed units for the domestication and breeding of wild animals and the production and operation of production and operation, and shall be banned for all illegal acts, especially those who are called domestication and breeding and who trade illegally in the acquisition and hunting of wild animals shall be severely punished. This incident should be taken as an opportunity to rectify the wild animal domestication, breeding and production and operation industry chaos, comprehensive clean up irregular and illegal production and business activities, strictly prohibit the state to protect wild animals and rare and endangered animals. The contents of a lawful business license approved by the competent department shall be made public and subject to public supervision at any time.
b) The National People’s Congress urgently amends the China Wildlife Protection Law to include public health and safety in the provisions on wildlife use. According to China’s Wildlife Protection Law and the Regulations on the Implementation of Land Wildlife Protection, there are no direct provisions on the prohibition and restriction of the consumption of wild animals. At present, there are loopholes in the procedures and management of permits for the approval of domesticated and bred wild animals by the forestry department, often called for the protection, domestication or breeding, which is the case of illegal acquisition, trafficking and consumption of wild animals, and the hidden dangers for the trade and consumption of wild animals. Relevant legislation should be revised and perfected as soon as possible and the consumption of wild animals should be completed, the law enforcement departments and their responsibilities related to market supervision of wildlife operations should be clarified, the penalties for illegal exploitation of wild animals should be increased, and illegal consumption should also be included in the scope of management and punishment.
c) Advocate for a change in the narrow concept of “protecting wild animals for use” in society, strengthen public awareness of the protection of wild animals and their habitats, and give an in-depth and insightful understanding of the relationship between human existence and ecosystem services, as well as the relationship between conservation and public safety risks and everyone, Let the wild animal seating habits, which have become a luxury rather than a necessity, gradually fade out of people’s living habits, make wildlife protection deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, become the mainstream of society, put the concept of ecological civilization into everyone’s action.
d) On the occasion of the 15th Conference of the Parties to Biodiversity in Kunming in 2020, the Government should strongly support research in the wild, in the media, which should emphasize the protection of native wildlife populations and habitats.
We solemnly call for an end to the illegal trade and consumption of wild animals and to control major public health risks at the source. It is hoped that government authorities and scholars, as well as the public will work together to turn the crisis into action to protect ecology and public safety in a timely and effective manner!