The Afterlife star has signed an open letter to prime minister Boris Johnson urging him to 'tell international leaders to stop exploiting wildlife', accompanied by a petition.
Wild animal trade
The letter, penned by World Animal Protection and the Campaign to End Wildlife Trade (CEWT), has been co-signed by 24 NGOs including Compassion in World Farming, Four Paws UK and Cruelty Free International. Celebrities including Dame Judi Dench and Evanna Lynch among others have added their names.
It says that consumer demand for exotic pets, traditional Chinese medicine, and tourism is 'a primary cause of the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases like Covid-19, SARS, Ebola and MERS which are all believed to have passed from wildlife to humans'.
Wild animals 'are being taken from the wild or farmed in cruel conditions' to meet this demand, adds the letter. These animals include snakes, parrots, iguanas, lizards, tortoises, otters, and more.
'A devastating impact'
In a statement sent to Plant Based News, television presenter and author Simon Reeve said: "This pandemic has had a devastating impact on all our lives, and tackling the source of the problem must be a priority.
"Ending the exploitation of wildlife for use in the exotic pet, traditional medicine, and entertainment industries will take us one huge step closer to safeguarding our health and the future of the natural world."
'Tackle the causes of the virus'
Sonul Badiani-Hamment from World Animal Protection, added: "To build back stronger we need to tackle the causes of the virus, avoid the inaction following previous epidemics and work together with countries around the world to end the wildlife trade and help prevent future zoonotic outbreaks.
"COVID-19 will be at the top of the agenda at the G20 meeting of global leaders in November and we urge the PM to back a global wildlife trade ban to protect billions of animals, our health, and the global environment.”