Jane Goodall has called for an end to wildlife trafficking and bush meat

Jane Goodall is the world-famous primatologist and anthropologist who lived with apes and understands them. Her voice is a powerful one. Writing on the Slate.com website (APRIL 06, 2020) she said that Covid-19 should make us rethink our destructive relationship with the natural world. Humankind needs to chart another way forward. The pandemic which has stricken the world should make humanity rethink its relationship with the natural world.

Jane Goodall. Collage: PoC. Photos in public domain.
Jane Goodall. Collage: PoC. Photos in public domain.

It is long overdue as far as I am concerned. You won't be able to make a change through voluntary action. It will have to be forced upon people and encouraged by offering alternatives to bush meat and to making money out of trafficking while animal parts.

ASSOCIATED: Statement of Jane Goodall about the killing of Cecil the lion

More than half the diseases that have emerged since 1960 were caused by disease spreading from wild animals. As I said, you would have thought that we would have learnt by now but apparently not. Jane Goodall says that the world is interconnected and that what happens in one part of the natural world affects the rest including humans. A weakness of humans is that they feel distanced from the natural world and they are almost invariably self-interested.

Most people hadn't heard of the pangolin until Covid-19 emerged. It is believed that the virus which causes Covid-19 originates in bats and was transferred to people via pangolins. Pangolins are the most persecuted and used animal on the planet because the scales and body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine and in foods because it is believed they improve health.

Goodall says that people are now feeling the true cost of wildlife trafficking and the destruction of the natural world. I would add bush meat is another major influence in that process. Goodall said that her work informs her that thousands of great apes are stolen from the wild every year and hunted for their body parts and to eat. 

Bush meat in China and Africa is commonplace. That means humans eating apes and monkeys too. Out cousins. They are murdered and eaten. Horrible. I'm concerned about Africa with respect to the spread of Covid-19 because their hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with it. If it expands rapidly in the African continent and it has started in sub-Saharan Africa where there is one doctor of every 5,000 people compared to 300 in Europe it may be catastrophic. The average American hospital has more intensive care beds than most African countries.

Jane Goodall noted that the diseases Sars and Mers are former virus epidemics which had spread from animals.

Every country must do its part to create more comprehensive legislation to protect wildlife, and illegal trafficking and ban sales.

I agree, that China to name one important country, must legislate to dramatically improve animal welfare and wildlife. However, great legislation without enforcement is worse than useless. The truth of the matter is that we can't be too optimistic about the impact of legislation in places like China or Africa. There is far too much corruption. 

Corruption fatally undermines law enforcement. It needs a complete change in attitude and culture to remove corruption and I don't believe it can be done. I know that's incredibly pessimistic but corruption must be dealt with almost initially before enacting fresh legislation.

And there needs to be international enforcement. We have treaties and agreements in place already with CITES to control the movement of animal body parts and live animals across the globe. What happens? Almost nothing has changed. The industry is worth billions and agreements are just walked over and ignored. 

I'm afraid Goodall is too optimistic, almost naive in my opinion but it is also correct that there needs to be dramatic change. She mentions that China implemented a strict ban on wildlife trafficking after the emergence of Covid-19. But has it been enforced? China shut down 20,000 wild animal markets but there are reports that they have reopened as if nothing has happened. Corruption, as I said, undermines everything.

When you protect wildlife and nature you protect humans and their communities. Humans have to reconnect with nature and see the importance of protecting it. Fundamental changes are required which are so profound that they will take many decades to come about.


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