Scale of legal wildlife trade revealed

03 Oct 2020

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By Josh Loeb and Nicole Grygolunas

Almost three-and-a-half-million live wild animals were legally imported into the UK from emerging zoonotic disease ‘hotspots’ over five years.

All the animals were transported to the UK for ‘commercial’ purposes, some originating from parts of the world flagged for their potential for zoonotic disease emergence.

According to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the APHA, 3,411,021 wild vertebrate animals were imported commercially in the period 2014 to 2018.

However, this figure is likely to be an underestimate of all wild animal transfers, since the extent of illegal imports is not known.

In addition, the tally excludes wild animals imported for conservation purposes and those being transferred between zoological collections.

And it also excludes wild fish, domesticated animals, species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), semi-domesticated pigeons and gamebirds.

The data were obtained by five academics...