When Confronting a Pandemic, We Must Save Nature to Save Ourselves

Some of the deadliest new diseases—including COVID-19, Ebola, SARS, and HIV—have arisen when the natural barriers between human and animal populations are breached. Dangerous close contact and prolonged exposure occurs when people encroach on wildlife habitat or bring wild animals into human communities. Both are routine in the global trade and over consumption of wildlife, which is at the root of all four diseases. U.S. demand for natural resources and wildlife products is a driving force behind the problem and the resulting pandemics. As the world’s second largest buyer of illegal wildlife products after China, the United States has an out sized role to play in ending wildlife trafficking, halting unsustainable deforestation and supporting international conservation efforts.