The Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW), consisting of 14 organisations including the CIC, has released a joint statement on the wildlife management challenges that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement calls for a “pragmatic, factual and science-based approach” to these challenges, and puts forward four guiding principles that should be used when making decisions to limit the spread and emergence of zoonotic diseases, while also taking the needs of human well-being and global biodiversity into account.
These principles are:
- Recognize the importance of the use of wildlife for many communities, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), in policy responses.
- Maintain and restore healthy and resilient ecosystems to reduce risks of zoonotic spillovers and future pandemics.
- Persecution including killing of wild animals suspected of transmitting diseases will not address the causes of the emergence or spread of zoonotic diseases.
- Regulate, manage and monitor harvesting, trade and use of wildlife to ensure it is safe, sustainable and legal.
It is first vital that governments and international organisations recognise the importance of IPLCs when making wildlife management decisions. This is both to ensure that livelihoods are not negatively affected by any policies that may be introduced, and to utilise local knowledge to facilitate any planned conservation activities.
In addition, allowing IPLCs to benefit from the sustainable use of wildlife incentivises them to positively engage in conservation work. Within the context of hunting and sustainable use, incentives may include direct income or other benefits such as meat distribution.
In terms of responses that should be implemented, it is should be stressed that introducing blanket bans on wildlife usage (which many have called for as a response to COVID-19) would fail to address issues that are considered key drivers in zoonotic disease emergence. These include habitat encroachment and destruction by human activity, or the impact of biodiversity loss on ecosystems’ abilities to resist disease.
Therefore, maintaining healthy ecosystems through an integrated approach, and looking to effectively enforce regulations and the monitoring of wildlife usage, should be considered as alternative measures.
IPLCs can play a significant role in both types of responses. When looking to maintain healthy ecosystems, a positive example of this in action is the use of regulated, sustainable hunting programs. Not only can this generate socio-economic benefits for IPLCS in hunting areas, it also generates much needed funding for conservation initiatives. Furthermore, sustainable hunting activities are beneficial for biodiversity as a whole, as they prevent more destructive forms of land usage, such as agriculture, from being introduced in wildlife areas.
Real life examples, such as the surge in poaching observed around the world in the wake of COVID-19, have also shown the importance of IPLCs in regulating, managing and monitoring wildlife use to ensure that it is conducted appropriately. This increase in poaching has, in part, been attributed to a drop off in revenues from the hunting sector caused by international travel restrictions. As a result, game guards and patrol units were not available to stop individuals from engaging in poaching activities.
With the future of wildlife and countless communities at risk, the CIC would strongly encourage all involved in wildlife management decision making to look at the facts, and to take these four principles into consideration.
For more information, please read the full joint statement here.
The CPW comprises a group of international organizations that have mandates or programmes that revolve around sustainable use and conservation of wildlife resources.
Partners include the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) the Food and Agriculture Administration of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), , the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), International Trade Centre (ITC), International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), and TRAFFIC – The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network.
The partnership was established in 2013, with the aim of establishing a platform for addressing wildlife management issues that require national and supra-national responses.