Recent estimates show that the amount of illegal bushmeat smuggled into the UK has doubled in five years. Border Agency staff seized a total of 1,149kg of meat from wild animals at airports in 2018/19. This is up from 946kg the previous year and 544kg in 2014/15, according to a response by the Home Office to a freedom of information request made by the Daily Mirror.
The current COVID-19 pandemic, like many other infectious diseases, is thought to have zoonotic origins. This means, it’s transferred from animals to humans. The risks of this kind of transmissions are increasing as we encroach further and further onto wild habitats and hunt, butcher and consume wild animals. Could this mean new sources of pandemics in European countries? At the same time, the illegal bushmeat trade is emptying forests across many parts of Africa, endangering the health of ecosystems so critical in our fight against climate change.