This Issue Brief analyses options for the regulation of this interface between humans and wildlife. Based on a study of the available literature, it attempts to identify the four main behavioural factors that contribute to the risk of zoonotic diseases emerging from wildlife sources. These behavioural factors call for varying institutional responses. Indeed, when formulating these policies, it is crucial to distinguish between issues pertaining to different practices of wild meat consumption and the different drivers of deforestation.

Key Messages

  • International pressure pushes for banning markets that sell live wild animals, sometimes also known as wet markets. The advantage of such a ban approach is that it is radical, comprehensive and helps manage health risk for humans while protecting endangered species and animal welfare. However, such a measure would increase the likelihood of hard-to-regulate illegal practices, and thus to perpetuate an uncontrolled risk. It may actually be more effective to control this risk by better hygiene regulation of existing markets.
  • This issue should not be confused with wildlife hunting such as for bushmeat, the management of which requires the on-ground deployment of teams which can mediate between local authorities and the concerned population groups, minimize disease transmission and provide healthcare.
  • Encroachments on forest land, which increase contact between humans and wildlife, can be dealt with by increasing the resources allocated to monitoring illegal activities by the police forces and environmental justice mechanisms.
  • Lastly, deforestation resulting from a change in land-use—which interferes with ecosystems and increases the risk of epidemics—is linked to the broader and more worrying question of the growing consumption of land for agriculture, and, to a lesser extent, for urbanisation. Long-standing options such as the strengthening of international and European commitments towards reducing imported deforestation, expanding protected areas, and more effective oversight of existing protected areas, may benefit from a regained momentum in view of preventing disease risk.
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