By Sharon Atieno

As World Wildlife Day is marked on 3rd March, there is a renewed call to end wildlife trade.

Edith Kabesiime, Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection (WAP) during a virtual briefing called on people to sign the global petition that calls on G20 members to put an immediate and permanent ban on wildlife markets and end the global wildlife trade.

Wildlife trade accounts for about USD 40 billion annually, with half of it being due to illegal wildlife trade. The petition has so far collected 16,634 signatures out of 15,000.

She said: “The African continent is home to some of the world’s most majestic and iconic wildlife. Sadly, it is also home to some of the world’s most cruel, dangerous, and exploitative wildlife trading. Some of the activities are criminal, others are legally authorized, but all are cruel.”

Kabesiime noted that action is needed to end the global wildlife trade; to safeguard animal welfare, biodiversity, and to protect our health and urged people not to buy, own, or breed a wild animal for entertainment, for traditional medicine or as an exotic pet. A life in captivity is a world away from a life in the wild, she said.

This year’s theme for World Wildlife Day is Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet. It highlights the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas, according to the United Nations.

It is estimated that between 200 to 350 million people live within or adjacent to forested areas around the world, relying on various ecosystem services provided by forest and forest species for their livelihoods and to cover their basic needs.

Kabesiime called for the need to protect forests which are the habitat for wildlife.

The Day’s commemoration coincided with the launch of an interactive map by WAP showing wildlife trade routes across the globe and exposing the cruelty undergone by animals. In Africa, the map puts special focus on the Ball python in West Africa, African Grey Parrots in Central Africa, The Traditional medicine markets in Benin and Lion bone trade in South Africa