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

Nigeria Addressing COVID-19 through a One Health approach (NACOH)

NACOH presents the opportunity to carry out One Health approaches following the recommendations of the earlier projects and the Nigerian Strategic One Health plan. It will continue efforts to understand underlying mechanism of disease transmissions between humans and animals, combining methods of epidemiology, anthropology and virology to unify efforts towards enhanced animal, public and environmental/wildlife health under one umbrella. This will ideally result in early detection of pathogens with pandemic potential and in parallel, concrete responses caused by zoonotic pathogens. The project shall create and strengthen inter-institutional, inter-sectoral partnerships nationally and internationally. Leadership and coordination in combination with an emphasis on innovation, training, surveillance, publication of research outcomes, wildlife conservation and risk communication will be the major outputs of the institutions involved.

Project Website: