Catastrophic Consequences of Wildlife Trafficking

Catastrophic Consequences of Wildlife Trafficking
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Do you remember these images?

Yes, You are right!

These images are from Covid-19 Pandemic.

Now many of you might wonder as to what is connection between these images and wildlife trafficking?

The answer is that there is a direct connection between between Covid-19 Pandemic and wildlife trafficking. Covid-19 Pandemic is nothing but a zoonotic disease. The virus causing zoonotic disease is transmitted from wildlife to humans. SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 Pandemic is naturally found in Bat species. When these Bats are taken out form there wild habitat and cramped into cages with other wild animals in the wet markets for their trade, they undergo through huge stress. This weakens their immunity system and they shed these viruses through their body fluids which come into contact with other wildlife/animals which are not meant to host thses viruses. Once this virus enters the intermediary carrier (in case of Covid-19 Pandemic, it is believed to be pangolin), it gets mutated. From pangolins it is believed to have entered into humans in the wet markets and from humans to humans it got spread throughout the world facilitated by rapid air connectivity.

Whosoever is reading this post must have witnessed the catastrophic consequences of Covid-19 Pandemic. Following is taken from World Health Organization (WHO) Covid-19 Dashboard:

As on 21st June, 2023 more than 6.9 million people across the globe have already died due to Covid-19 Pandemic. These are official data as reported by governments to WHO. However, estimates  from the World Health Organization (WHO) published in May 2022 show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic (described as “excess mortality”) between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million). Excess mortality was calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that had occurred and the number that would have been expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years.  Here I recall the following article published in the New York Times:

The title of this article seems to be so realistic suggesting that just as humans have driven the pangolin (most trafficked mammal) on the verge of extinction through poaching and illegal trade, the pangolin has taken revenge from the humans by bringing them on the verge of extinction through Covid-19 Pandemic. During peak of Covid 1.0 and Covid 2.0 in 2020 and 2021 how many of us would have thought that they would survive this Pandemic. It appeared as if entire humanity was cursed to be doomed.

To contain the spread of  Covid-19 Pandemic, governments imposed several lockdowns resulting in shutting down of various industries. This renedered millions of workers unemployed. In third world countries where robust social security system is not in place, this Pandemic caused unimaginable suffering in economic terms for larger section of the population. As per an estmate by International Labour Organization (Covid-19: ILO Monitor-8th Edition) due to Covid-19 Pandemic, global hours worked in 2021 was 4.3 percent below pre-pandemic levels which was equivalent of 125 million full-time jobs. As per report titled "The Potential Impact of COVID-19 on GDP and Trade" published by World Bank Group, there was approximately -4% and -5% deviation from the benchmark  for global GDP and Export respectively due to COVID-19.

These negative growth rates in GDP and export resulted in huge losses of revenues of governments which could have been utilized for developments of social and physical infrastructures. 

Covid-19 Pandemic wreaked havoc in many countries with tourism based economy. For example, in Sri Lanka where tourism contributes significantly in its GDP, due to Covid-19 tourists' footfall was negligible for two years which severely impacted the forex reserves of Sri Lanka. This alongwith other factors exacerbated the economic crisis in that country leading to mass protests against the government in 2022. These mass protests also resulted into political crisis, resignation of the then cabinet and fleeing of the then President from the country.

Covid-19 Pandemic has a devastating consequences for education also. For almost two years educational institutes were closed and online classes were being conducted. In middle and lower income countries many schools were not technically equipped to conduct online classes. Similarly in these countries, a larger section of population could not afford to provide internet and digital gadgets to their children because of their poverty. This resulted in loss of two years of education for millions of children in these countries. As per the report titled "The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery" published jointly by UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank , learning losses from Covid-19 could cost this generation of students close to $17 trillions in lifetime earnings. This report also shows that in low and middle income countries, the share of children living in 'Learning Poverty' - already 53% before the pandemic - could potentially reach 70% given the long school closures and the ineffectiveness of remote learning.

Covid-19 Pandemic must serve as a last warning for humans to mend their ways of dealing with wildlife. Humans must leave the wildlife in the wild. If not, who knows what would be the severity of next zoonotic pandemic and whether humanity would be able to survive that or become extinct as many wildlife species have gone due to wildlife trafficking.

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