By Marlene Angir

World Animal Protection has called on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) to approve policies to protect the African wildlife from cruelty and exploitation.

It is estimated that about 1.6 trillion wild animals are killed and suffer through people’s actions every year. CITES data (2011-2015) shows that around 1.5 million live animals were traded as exotic pets and 1.2 million skins were legally exported.

The trade poses public health risks with about 60% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic- meaning they can be spread between animals and people- and more than 70% of the emerging infectious diseases are thought to originate from wildlife.

According to the World Animal Protection, international demand for Africa’s iconic wildlife is causing millions of animals immense suffering and putting their survival at risk.

“Africa’s grey parrots and ball pythons are captured from their natural habitats or born into captivity, to be sold into the exotic wildlife trade; a growing multibillion-dollar industry that is having a devastating impact on wildlife populations across the world. The captive farming and killing of lions in the name of ‘entertainment’, use in unscientifically proven traditional medicine and trophies is not only cruel but also a recipe for extinction as it diminishes conservation efforts of wild population,”  the organization says in a statement.

“Although there have been challenges in wildlife protection, some progress has been made such as Turkish airlines making a commitment to stop transporting African Grey parrots from Central Africa back in 2019. A section of the media covered Kenya Airways (KQ)’s commitment to stopping transportation of monkeys and other wild animals used in scientific research in January 2022 among many other progress.”

“The sheer magnitude of wildlife interference 8is not only impacting animals, but also people and our planets. Whether the trade is legal or illegal, it doesn’t matter. Both way, its animal exploitation and abuse. It is for this reason that we call upon CITES secretariat and parties to pass resolutions that protect wild animals and not those that exploit them,” said Edith Kabesiime, Wildlife campaigns manager at World Animal Protection.

Despite all this progress, the only sure way to guarantee wildlife protection is ending wildlife trade. To commemorate World Wildlife Day, at an individual level, World Animal Protection is urging people not to buy, own or breed a wild animal as a pet or even buy trophies and other wild animal derivatives.