There is a need for the international community to enforce a ban on legal and illegal trade in wild animals amid threat to public health, ecosystems balance and livelihoods, an African campaigner said on Wednesday during the World Wildlife Day.

Edith Kabesiime, Wildlife Campaigns Manager at World Animal Protection, African Office, said that ending wildlife trade is key to sustaining rural livelihoods, curbing spread of zoonotic diseases and strengthening the resilience of ecosystems in the continent.

“Action is needed to end the global wildlife trade, to safeguard animal welfare, biodiversity and to protect our health,” Kabesiime said at a virtual briefing in Nairobi.

“We are urging people not to buy, own, or breed a wild animal for entertainment, for traditional medicine or an exotic pet. A life in captivity is a world away from a life in the wild,” she added.

Kabesiime said this year’s World Wildlife Day whose theme is “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet” was a wake-up call for African governments to strengthen protection of wildlife habitats amid threats posed by population growth and climatic stresses.

“Wild animals should be protected in their natural habitats and not exploited for commercial purposes. Many pandemics are directly linked to destruction of wildlife habitats,” said Kabesiime.

An interactive map developed by World Animal Protection in late 2020 indicates that Africa is home to some of the most traded wildlife species including lions, elephants, African grey parrot, ball pythons and pangolins.

Kabesiime said the continent’s iconic mammals, reptiles and birds are being traded to help meet global demand for traditional medicine, pets and ornaments.

“Africa is also home to some of the world’s most cruel, dangerous and exploitative wildlife trading markets. Some of the activities are criminal, others are legally authorized, but all are cruel,” said Kabesiime.

She said that African governments should enforce global and domestic legal instruments to end trade in wildlife products that fuels poaching and is a threat to national security. Enditem

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