Updated: Aug 5, 2020
With over eight million people in all corners of the world infected with the coronavirus to date, it is imperative that we prevent another deadly pandemic from happening again. One crucial starting point is the wildlife trade.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Several of the early cases of the coronavirus outbreak were traced to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where exotic animals for sale, either for meat, Chinese medicine preparations, or as pets, are kept in shockingly unsanitary conditions, unnaturally close to each other. The virus that caused the outbreak is known as SARS‐CoV‐2, a newly discovered virus closely related to bat coronaviruses, pangolin coronaviruses, and SARS-CoV.
The scientific consensus is that COVID-19 has a natural origin. The probable bat-to-human infection may have been among people processing bat carcasses and guano in the production of traditional Chinese medicines.
Steven R. Galster of Freeland and Paolo Pagaduan of WWF Philippines headline a discussion on wildlife trafficking and protecting people from the next pandemic. The Philippines, unfortunately, is implicated in the global wildlife trade, being an exporter of pangolins, sea turtles, shark fin, and the like, as well as a transhipment point for wild birds and elephant ivory destined for Hong Kong and mainland China.
Moderated by Bambina Olivares
ABOUT STEVEN R. GALSTER
Steven R. Galster is an environmental and human rights investigator and counter-trafficking program designer. Since 1987, he has planned and participated in investigations and remedial programs to stop wildlife trafficking, human trafficking, and corruption, and to build good governance in Asia, Africa, Russia, and the USA. He co-founded several civil society organizations, including: Global Survival Network, Phoenix, WildAid, and Freeland. He currently serves as Director of Freeland, a counter-trafficking group. He has been featured on CNN, National Geographic, Discovery, and in TIME Magazine and the New York Times.
ABOUT PAOLO PAGADUAN
Paolo Pagaduan is a conservationist with 20 years of experience organizing communities towards sustainable development through participatory approaches, managing projects on ridge-to-reef management. Promoting cross-sector collaboration from the barrios to the board rooms; working with grassroots, government agencies, and private corporations to work together to live in harmony with Nature. He also serves as Executive Director of the Center for Philippine Biodiversity Journalism, in addition to being Project Manager for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines, currently focused on the Forests for Water project.