Leonardo DiCaprio is urging governments to ban the illegal wildlife trade.
The Academy Award-winning actor took to social media to call for an end to illegal wildlife trafficking.
“Please join me today in supporting the Declaration to End the Trade, a global call from Global Wildlife Conservation, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Wild Aid to put an end to all commercial collection and sale in markets of wild terrestrial animals (particularly of birds and mammals) for consumption,” he said on Instagram.
He continued: “Your voice matters and together we can show governments that public opinion around this issue is strong. This is among the most important decisions that the world community can make today to prevent another pathogen from jumping from animals to humans and spreading around the world.”
Illegal Wildlife Trade And Pandemics
Experts believe COVID-19 is zoonotic—a disease that spreads from animals to humans—that most likely originated from wildlife. Experts also believe that the coronavirus outbreak originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China last December.
Wet markets are a type of live animal market that sells a variety of food—such as fresh produce—as well as live and slaughtered animals for human consumption. Many also sell animals obtained through illegal poaching.
Unsanitary and cramped conditions commonly present at wet markets—which are found worldwide—create a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases.
Other Celebs Speak Out
DiCaprio, a vocal environmentalist, isn’t the only celebrity to make the connection between global pandemics and the illegal wildlife trade. Actress and producer Courtney Cox also took to social media on Earth Day to draw attention to the issue.
“Happy Earth Day everyone! By protecting our natural ecosystems, we can stop the illegal
wildlife trade which has caused the deadliest diseases of our lifetimes, including HIV, SARS, and COVID-19,” she captioned alongside a photo of herself sitting on a wooden swing.
Longtime vegetarian and animal lover Ricky Gervais also called for a global ban on wildlife consumption and wet markets.
“For the sake of people and animals, wildlife trade and consumption has to end, now,” the comedian told the Mirror.
He continued: “We can’t carry on exploiting animals, eating wildlife and trashing the planet. The wildlife trade and markets have to close, otherwise, it will be a case of when, and not if, we have another global pandemic.”