Review: Options for managing and tracing wild animal trade chains to reduce zoonotic risk

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The legal wildlife trade continues to be a vital source of income and sustenance for communities around the world. However, to reduce the potential emergence and transmission of zoonotic diseases linked to the wildlife trade, there is an urgent need for a range of interdisciplinary responses on aspects where:

  • The wildlife trade cannot be conducted in a safe, sustainable and legal manner, responses may need to focus on restricting trade and strict enforcement of relevant laws to combat illegal, unsustainable and unsafe practices.
  • The wildlife trade is legal, its supply, use and trade must be carefully managed to ensure that risks to human health and the sustainability of wildlife populations are monitored and mitigated.

How can the legal wildlife trade be better managed for safety and sustainability?

Application of food safety risk management systems

Adapting existing food safety protocols to identify hazards and manage disease risks associated with wildlife trade could be a practical approach to prevent future zoonotic spread events at various human-animal interfaces.

Trade in high-risk taxa such as mammals and wild birds can facilitate potential disease risks at different stages of the supply chain. For example, live specimens – whether of wild or captive origin – kept in closed premises while in transit, or held in live animal markets where livestock may also be present, could increase the risk of transmission. of diseases.

Case studies in the review examine how the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) framework – a long-standing set of principles used in food safety systems – is applied to address the risk of transmission to different stages of wild animal supply chains.

Exploring how existing systems can be modified is an important step towards better managing the wildlife trade to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission and the emergence of new pathogens.

Sam Campbell, Wildlife TRAPS Project Manager and lead review author

This review includes three case studies established wildlife trade systems to illustrate supply chain management practices, traceability measures and regulatory structures involved. These include the trade in kangaroo meat in Australia, sourced from hunting wild populations; the trade in captive-bred ostrich meat from South Africa; and the venison trade in France, from a combination of hunting and captive production.

Other supply chain management and traceability tools considered in the review include third-party certification, blockchain, and digital traceability applications. The review draws on other examples of supply chains drawn from trade in fisheries and plant resources.


Traceability is vital

For wildlife trade to occur legally, safely and sustainably, wild animals and their products must be carefully documented and traced throughout the supply chain to identify points of risk for sustainability and health, to restrict illegal and dangerous activities and to ensure consistent implementation of control measures. .

Recent concerns about the transmission of zoonotic diseases through the wildlife trade have drawn attention to the need for traceability post-COVID-19. The integrity of a supply chain to exclude wild animal products from illegal and unsustainable sources or products at risk of introducing zoonotic pathogens depends on the presence of systems that allow for control and transparency.

Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC Senior Advisor on Traceability

Currently, health risk monitoring focuses primarily on food safety issues such as contamination and spoilage, but in domestic and wild animal supply chains there is an increasing need to ensure that wildlife trade carries minimal risk of emerging infectious diseases (EID). Traceability systems would provide insight into a commercial wildlife supply chain by monitoring critical points to gather data on where, how and under what regulatory conditions a product – whether live, partially processed or in of parts and derivatives – has been obtained, prepared and transported to the end user.

Understanding the structure and stages of the trade chain for animals and products, from consumer to source, is an essential step in assessing and managing the risks of this chain. Existing traceability practices for domestic livestock make food traceability a useful starting point for understanding regulatory contexts.


What should happen?

Review recommends the need for a multisectoral approach online with One Health. In the different wild animal trade systems, government authorities, experts working in the fields of public and animal health, food safety, natural resource management and law enforcement must collaborate and share their knowledge to:

  • Improve supply chain management
  • Test traceability approaches
  • Create minimum biosecurity standards for legal wildlife trade
  • Reduce illicit and dangerous practices

We call on governments, the private sector and non-governmental stakeholders to seize this major opportunity to use and document how existing traceability approaches can be adapted to encourage positive changes in the wildlife trade, to the benefit species and people.

Anastasiya Timoshyna, Director of Strategy, Program and Impact at TRAFFIC


To promote the continued adoption of supply chain management and traceability best practices, social and behavior change interventions are also needed to target and support critical actors along the supply chain, from production to consumption.

This review builds on the Wildlife TRAPS Project Social and Behavior Change (SBC) Situation Analysis published in December 2021, and together these assessments will guide a series of pilot interventions under the Wildlife TRAPS Project over the next few years. next two years.

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