Understanding & managing zoonotic disease risk for wild meat markets in Central & West Africa

Consumption of wild meat has both negative (e.g., zoonotic spillovers) and positive (e.g., providing essential nutrients) implications for human health, the extent of which varies geographically. Understanding the relationship between wild meat and human health is vital to guide and prioritise intervention actions and policy decisions.


  1. Review and contextualise the current state of evidence for zoonotic disease risks from wild meat
  2. Identify priority areas for intervention based on the positive and negative health implications of consuming wild meat in Central & West Africa.
  3. Determine how health risks from meat sold at markets changes in relation to market size and the surrounding environmental condition gradient

This three-year project is part of the research programme Wildlife Consumption in Urban Tropical Africa, funded by UK Research and Innovation, and led by Dr Daniel Ingram of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE). This interdisciplinary research programme aims to investigate the socio-cultural, economic, and ecological drivers of the hunting, consumption, and trade of wildlife for wild meat in rural and urban areas of the tropics and subtropics. The programme is connected to the larger WILDMEAT project which is formed by a team of local and international universities, government organisations, and NGOs. The research aims to inform policies which promote species conservation, social-cultural heritage, human health, and sustainable use.

Copyright for the picture above: Photo by Nathalie van Vliet/CIFOR (2017) CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


This interdisciplinary and intersectoral research project investigates the changing dynamics and health risks at multiple levels along the wildlife trade supply chain from Myanmar to China and Thailand. Myanmar has been the most important source of wildlife and wildlife product imports to neighbouring China, but the wildlife trade in this country is everely understudied. In this project, researchers from Germany and Myanmar will conduct field and clinical research in the borderlands of Kachin State and Karen State, and laboratory research in Germany. Pathogens circulating in wildlife will be identified in biodiversity surveys that also include prey, predators, and arthropod vectors of disease of traded or locally consumed species. Following a ‘One Health’ approach, livestock, and other domestic and peri-domestic animals as well as humans along the entire capture, trade, and supply chain will be screened to assess if, where, and how such pathogens succeed in crossing species barriers. These investigations will be embedded in a contextually sensitive socio-cultural and socio-economic study of people who are involved in wildlife conservation, extraction, trade, and consumption in the study areas. The research will test the hypotheses that such an integrative approach is useful to measure actual human exposure in fragile contexts, that critical control points can be identified, and that cross-border travel and trade restrictions in the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a fast-growing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar have led to more local wildlife consumption, increasing spill-over and health risks. By conducting collaborative research together with and in the public health systems of the states hosting the field and clinical research, engaging stakeholders including high-risk actors, vulnerable population groups and health authorities at the local, regional, state and federal levels, informing regulatory frameworks, and translating end-products to civil society and policy-makers, the project aims to contribute to reducing the risks of zoonotic spill-overs and other health hazards from contact with wildlife and in wildlife trade.

Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Nigerian Animal Health Professionals on Wildlife Protection Laws/Acts/Legislations

This survey is aimed at gathering information about the knowledge, attitude and practices of animal health professionals across the country on wildlife protection laws/acts/legislations. One of the key outcomes of this study is to generate data-driven recommendations to relevant stakeholders on ways to expand awareness about wildlife protection among animal health professionals and the Nigerian public by extension.

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African Youth Dialogue on One Health and Sustainable Livelihood

In Africa, health and socio-economic well-being is persistently being challenged by the anthropocentric civilization and its effects.

The African Youth Dialogue on One Health and Sustainable Livelihood is an annual virtual/hybrid event that consists of keynote lectures, a panel discussion(s) and a series of interactive sessions.

The dialogue will culminate into the development of a white paper that outlines specific steps and initiatives to advance the One Health and sustainable livelihood agenda in Africa. The white paper shall form on the four pillars of One Health operationalization – collaboration,

Learn more about the annual event: here

Investigation of diversity of hosts and pathogens of zoonotic potential within the bat trade in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

Bats are known carriers of several zoonotic pathogens, and exposure to bats or their bodily fluids is a key risk factor for spillover events with potential for human epidemics. The increase in hunting and human consumption of bats in areas of dense urban population and in a region with high estimated zoonotic viral diversity is therefore a concerning trend. This cross-sectional observational study investigating the diversity of hosts and pathogens with zoonotic potential within the bat trade (in bats and people associated with the trade; e.g., hunters, transporters, market traders) aims to gather clear evidence for the policy dialogue for improving market management and reducing trade and demand. We aim to provide better understanding of the zoonotic disease risk context and demonstrate shared exposure to pathogens between these groups. The data can then be used to demonstrate the inherent and existing risk in the local bat trade, and to engage with the Congolese government to plan and implement strategies to reduce zoonotic disease risks in bat markets.

Photo Credit: ‘Bat sampling in Republic of Congo’ by Clément Kolopp WCS Congo

Exposing the illegal Trade of Wild Animal Products used worldwide (Bush Meat, Wild Animal Meat, Parts, Glands, Fur, Products, and Derivatives)

Since 2007, CEWS monitors (formal and/or common methods) the global illegal and legal e-commerce of wildlife. We are the only NGO doing formal monitorings of the e- commerce outside of Central and Eastern Europe, and the only NGO doing it globally.
Our results are shared during CITES CoP’s, with the enforcement authorities, INTERPOL, NGO’s, media, the monitored classified advertisements and social media platform managers. Our lobbying helps to protect endangered wildlife from the exploitation and trade, raise awareness about the international e-commerce of fauna species, and the urgency needed for the governments to act, by monitoring their own e-commerce of wildlife to tackle and enforce it properly.

We formally monitor the illegal and legal e-commerce of wild fauna in Africa, Asia and the Americas, but more recently we have focused in Mexico, Canada, and the US, but in each monitoring we choose different countries in Latin America.

Each project is unique and differs in results, species of animals checked, countries monitored, demand and specimens found from past formal monitorings which CEWS has done for more than a decade and half. The runtimes of the projects are between 6 months and multiple years, depending on the specific setting.

CEWS uses advocacy, education and lobbying to let the public and governments learn about how the e-commerce of wildlife is decimating the international fauna populations.

More information can be found on CEWS’s website, for instance, further resources on e-commerce and CITES CoP 19.

Flying Vets

Wildlife in Mongolia is often in the spotlight at the international level, including two emblematic species, namely the Przewalski’s horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) and Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica). The issue of wildlife-related diseases, some of which can be traced back to disease incidences in livestock, has been prevalent in Mongolia including the virus known as Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) which led to the die-off of 1,000s of Saiga antelope in 2017. With the emergence of new zoonotic diseases along with other anthropogenic activities including the increasing number of domestic animals, the local communities face an increased risk of zoonosis. Many efforts are ongoing to try to minimize these threats, yet knowledge of conservation needs in Mongolia are growing. In addition, wildlife faces pressure from increasing domestic livestock. Collaborating on the Flying Vets project with an initial pilot phase in Mongolia CIC and WOAH in close partnership with Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia and The Wildlife Conservation Society aim to promote and enhance the ability of local communities in Mongolia to identify, respond to and manage wildlife diseases including the negative consequences for wildlife-domestic livestock interactions through the transmission and spread of diseases including zoonoses, thereby reducing the potential threat posed to public health, food safety as well as wildlife conservation.

Building Government Commitment to End the Commercial Trade of Wild Birds and Mammals in Asia

Under this project, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) strategic objective is to use the COVID-19 pandemic to re- frame action on commercial trade of wild birds and mammals as a public health issue, mobilizing the public health sector, at global and national levels, to lead and take action. WCS provides technical support to policy and legislative reform on wildlife conservation issue across the globe. The project outlines four main components of this approach, including developing policy-influencing strategies, developing informed constituencies in government through joint research studies, creating targeting media campaigns to generate support for the proposed reforms, and analyzing to understand how criminals are adapting to post-COVID changes in policies and consumer behavior.

Unfolding the Wildlife Crime Initiative in the Congo Basin

The project aims to tackle the most impactful, large-scale and organised forms of wildlife crime. It addressed the three main drivers of wildlife crime: consumption of illegal or endangered wildlife products, poor or ineffective legal or policy frameworks, and illegal financial flows.

Focus group at a trade point in Kikwit. Credits: WWF