Trading Tactics: Time to Rethink the Global Trade in Wildlife
World Animal Protection, 222 Gray’s Inn Rd., London WC1X 8HB, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 October 2020
Revised: 15 December 2020
Accepted: 17 December 2020
Published: 21 December 2020
The Covid-19 outbreak has brought about fresh and intensified scrutiny of the wildlife trade, which substantively involves commerce in exotic pets. In response, there have been calls for trade bans involving key components of the global commercial wildlife trade, and some major policy decisions involving trade bans have ensued. Yet, these actions have been criticised, largely based on concerns that they risk exacerbating poverty, undermining human rights, damaging conservation incentives, and otherwise harming sustainable development and conservation efforts. Instead, many critics propose improved regulation of the status quo, with the intention of nurturing a legal, sustainable, safe, humane, and equitable wildlife trade. Here, we provide a countering view that draws attention to: (1) why the risks presented by the wildlife trade (to animal welfare, biodiversity, public health, and financial security) are manifold, and cannot be treated with complacency; (2) why the goal of a legal, sustainable, safe, humane, and equitable wildlife trade is misleading and unachievable; and (3) why moving towards an end to the commercial trade in wildlife should be our ultimate and more ambitious goal. We hope to stimulate further discussion on this issue both within the sustainability research and policy domains, identifying a path towards consensus on how best to protect wildlife, people, and planet.