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Project Detail


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.