On March 3 of every year, the United Nations observes World Wildlife Day and amid coronavirus outbreak, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that by overexploiting wildlife, habitats and ecosystems, humanity is endangering both itself and the survival of countless species of wild plants and animals. The novel coronavirus is thought to have originated from a market that sold wild animals and it is reportedly proven to have transmitted from wildlife to humans. The current outbreak of the deadly disease has already claimed more than 3,000 lives and has also infected nearly 90,000 people.
Guterres in his WWD 2020 message said, “All human civilizations have been and continue to be built on the use of wild and cultivated species of flora and fauna, from the food we eat to the air we breathe".
He further added, "On this World Wildlife Day, let us remind ourselves of our duty to preserve and sustainably use the vast variety of life on the planet. Let us push for a more caring, thoughtful and sustainable relationship with nature”.
WWD is observed to mark the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in 1973 and this year the theme is 'Sustaining all Life on Earth'. This year's theme is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of 'No Poverty', 'Responsible Consumption and Production', 'Life Below Water' and 'Life on Land'. The day also provides an opportunity to understand varied forms of life on earth.
However, currently, one of the most critical threats to wildlife is the disease prevalence in and out of their habitats. The most recent epidemics, including Ebola, Bird Flu, Swine Flu and Nipah have all been traced back to one or the other wildlife and the growing overlap of boundaries between humans and non-human life. The infectious diseases that are naturally spread between non-human life and humans are called 'zoonosis' and the current novel coronavirus is one such example of it.
Although, it is also known that humans also spread the viral disease to animals and even as vice-versa gets the most attention. The infections such as hepatitis and influenza are just as deadly if transmitted to animals. Humans also threaten wildlife with numerous pathogens that they are not immune to in the first place.