Serious wildlife crime is organised, transnational, is fuelled by corruption, and has a devastating impact on wildlife, local communities, national economies, security, public health and entire ecosystems. Of all the known threats to wildlife, the illegal taking, trade and consumption of wildlife is one of the most destructive and destabilising.
Despite the severe impacts of such crimes, we do not have a global agreement on wildlife crime and existing wildlife trade laws are not adequately enforced.
Scientific research indicates that COVID-19 was most likely transmitted to humans from its reservoir host, a horseshoe bat, via another intermediate host species, possibly a pangolin. We know that past pandemics have been caused by wildlife-related zoonotic diseases and the conditions that make spillover from animals to humans more likely.
Despite the risks to public health and animal health of high-risk wildlife trade, markets and consumption habits, current wildlife trade laws do not take account of public or animal health issues.