As the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report by the World Wide Fund (WWF) said that the wildlife trade and deforestation have led to more human-animal interaction, leading to the emergence of new zoonotic disease outbreaks.
The WWF for Nature, in its report, called for an urgent global action to address the key drivers which will cause future zoonotic disease outbreaks or result in pandemic similar to COVID-19.
In the past few decades, humans have encroached upon the natural world, resulting in increasing levels of contact between humans, livestock, and wildlife. As a result of this, the number and frequency of new zoonotic diseases, originating in animals and getting transmitted to people, has drastically increased over the last century.
According to the report, three to four new zoonotic diseases are emerging ever year. These new diseases pose a serious threat to human life, and can lead to deadly pandemics including HIV/AIDS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and also COVID-19.
The report titled ‘COVID-19: Urgent Call To Protect People And Nature’, stated that the key environmental factors driving the emergence of zoonotic diseases include consumption and trade of high-risk wildlife, expansion of agricultural practices, animal production, change in land-use leading to deforestation and conversion, as well as unsustainable intensification.
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International said that people must urgently identify the links between destruction of nature and human health, or the world will soon suffer from the next pandemic.
To take urgent action, he suggested curbing the high-risk consumption and trade of wildlife, halting deforestation and land conversion and also manage food production sustainably. These actions will help prevent the spill-over of pathogens to humans, and will also address few other global risks to society such as biodiversity loss and climate change.