The disappearance of key species can destroy an entire ecosystem. Wolves are a great example. Wolves feed on ungulates, such as moose, deer and wild boars. The ecological role of the wolf includes controlling the population size of other wild animals, and removing carcasses from the environment. Consequently, they may play a role in regulating the spill over of diseases, such as Lyme disease and African swine fever, from wild animals to humans and livestock. Wildlife such as wolves are the keystones of functional and healthy ecosystems.
In the past 50 years, the population size of vertebrate species has decreased by 68%. 40% of amphibians, 25% of mammals, and 14% of birds are in danger of extinction. The biggest threat for wildlife is overexploitation, which includes wildlife trade. The wildlife trade represents one of the biggest menaces for wild animal conservation, and also for the appearance of emerging diseases, putting ecosystems and one’s health at risk. But banning wildlife trade is not the answer. What is needed is an effective, science-based, and robust regulatory system, integrating both health and conservation. The World Organization for Animal Health aims to influence the safety of wildlife trade by creating and ensuring capacities, standards, guidelines, and best practices to protect people, domestic animals, and wild species.
However, managing the health and conservation of wildlife is a task that needs integrated and collaborative leadership at the international level. In the context of trade, CITES works on ensuring the survival of wildlife species, and the OIE focuses on wildlife health. Together, they constitute an ideal symbiosis. So OIE and CITES are currently working to renew the MOU to address the threats facing wildlife health and conservation today, and tomorrow. Together, this powerful partnership can make the international trade on wildlife safer, leading to the recovery of key species of wildlife, and allowing the restoration of ecosystems.