| Wildlife consumption falls by nearly 30% as a result of fears of pandemics like COVID-19 | As the World Health Assembly begins today against the backdrop of continuing misery caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 30% of people polled in China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States claim the health crisis has caused them to consume less or avoid eating wildlife altogether.

More precisely, COVID-19 has caused 28 percent of those polled in China to eat little or no wildlife, with numbers nearly doubling in Thailand (21 percent in 2020 to 41 percent in 2021) and staying stable in Vietnam (41 percent in 2020 to 39 percent in 2021). However, there is a dedicated community of wildlife users, with 9 percent of participants in all five countries intending to purchase wildlife goods in the future.

The findings come from a poll conducted by GlobeScan for WWF and released today in a new study titled “COVID-19: One Year Later: Public Perceptions about Pandemics and Their Links to Nature.” It builds on a previous study conducted a year ago to gain a better understanding of public views and behaviors toward possible pandemics. With the World Health Organization (WHO) recently pointing to wildlife as a possible cause of the pandemic, the survey found that support for government efforts to close high-risk markets selling wildlife (85 percent) and avoid deforestation (88 percent) as root drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks is strong in all five countries.

The data indicates that, more than a year after the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a clear awareness that dangerous human-animal contact, which is often linked to deforestation and high-risk wildlife trade, can lead to severe disease outbreaks, with 46 percent of all participants naming disease transmission from animals to humans as the root cause most likely to trigger potential pandemics.

“The message is clear: our nature’s health is directly impacting our health, and people are now getting that message. Moving forward, our solutions should work with nature and not against it. Globally, as well as nationally here in the Philippines, the steps we are undertaking to ensure the end of this pandemic should also ensure that we are preventing the next one,” said WWF Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio.
The majority of those polled agree that addressing root causes, such as high-risk wildlife trafficking and deforestation, is the first step in avoiding potential pandemics. More than four out of five people surveyed support government action to combat these risks, and 79 percent of all participants in the five countries claim they will be highly or very concerned about a similar outbreak if no steps to close high-risk wildlife markets are taken.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the impacts of human activity on nature tragically close to our homes and families, and people are increasingly concerned and urging action: addressing the key drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks and taking a One Health approach has to be part of our collective global pandemic prevention strategy,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International. “The only way to prevent future pandemics is by reducing destructive human.