Human interference through capturing, slaughtering, selling, trafficking, trading, and consuming wildlife has the potential to increase the risk of transmission of diseases from animals to humans. Markets, restaurants selling wild animal meat, traditional medicine shops and captive breeding facilities are legal facilities which cater to the demand for rare wildlife derived products. While most of these establishments comply with sanitary requirements and adopt adequate prevention measures, some take advantage of loopholes to trade rare and profitable wildlife products. Unknown risks associated with wild animal utilization are also increased by the illegal activities in wildlife trade. Trafficked wildlife escapes hygiene and sanitary controls, which increases the exposure of humans to news viruses and other pathogens that can trigger deadly zoonotic outbreaks and even pandemics.
The Safety across Asia For the global Environment (SAFE) project, funded by the European Union and implemented in co-operation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), focuses on the connection between wildlife trafficking and zoonotic disease transmission with the aim to prevent future pandemics. In line with a One Health approach, aimed at finding the balance between the health of people, animals and ecosystems, SAFE understands that protecting wildlife and preventing wildlife crimes is important to protect human health.
The SAFE project is implemented in Thailand, Vietnam, Lao PDR and State of Sabah in Malaysia. It will identify facilities with a high risk of disease transmission from wild animals to humans. By developing and implementing a risk assessment framework for facilities and locations posing the highest risk of passing severe zoonotic diseases from wild animals to humans, SAFE will ensure that commercial and non-commercial facilities handling wild animal species are equipped with an understanding of the risks that they encounter in their daily operations.
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