Changing Dynamics and Health Risks along the Illegal Wildlife Trade Supply Chain from Myanmar to China and Thailand
This interdisciplinary and intersectoral research project aims to investigate 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 severely understudied. In this project, researchers from Germany, Myanmar and Thailand conduct field, clinical and laboratory research. Their joint research aims to identify pathogens circulating in wildlife, including the 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 are also screened to assess if, where, and how such pathogens succeed in crossing species barriers along the wildlife capture, trade, and supply chain. These investigations are 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.