China becomes the main market for most of the wildlife products from Southeast Asia, every year the demand for wildlife products in China has increased rapidly along with the development of traditional Chinese medicine which uses a lot of ingredients from wild animal products as medicines [1, 3, 4]. According to CITES Trade Database 1997–2016, about 72% of legal wildlife products in China are imported from several Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia) annually . Geographical proximity and economic dependence with China become determining factors why several countries in Southeast Asia (SEA) such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have a strategic position in the legal and illegal wildlife trade in the Asian region .
According to 2020 report on wildlife trade in the Southeast Asian region from TRAFFIC, it is observed that several legal wildlife product trade activities in the Southeast Asian region have fantastic value. In mid-1998-2007, there were around 180 million to 1 billion wild-caught Asian frogs exported from Indonesia every year. Between 2005–2013, there were 10 million reptile skins from Southeast Asia exported to various parts of the world. Meanwhile, around 225,000 kg of African elephant ivory was monitored from illegal trade in Southeast. Not only that, in 2017-2019 there were 96,000 kg of pangolin scales being smuggled in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. It was also reported that in 2018–2019 more than 45,000 songbirds were caught illegally in Sumatra and Java; And, more than 3,000 body parts of protected hornbills found in Asia traded illegally from 2010–2019, with more than 1,100 confiscated carcasses of the hornbill found in Indonesia .
Apart from being sold, the practice of wildlife hunting in Southeast Asia is also carried out for daily consumption. Several local communities in Southeast Asia have limited literacy regarding the threat of extinction of wild animals, so that the activity of wildlife consumptions is still considered a normal activity. Meanwhile, some of them also still believe that consuming wild animals can bring health benefits, this phenomenon is also typical in China. These benefits are usually related to the common belief that wild animal products can be used as medicine to cure certain diseases [5, 6].
The majority of local communities in Southeast Asia, especially from ethnic minorities living in remote areas also do not have sufficient understanding about the dangers of wildlife consumption. The high intensity of interaction with wildlife makes them the social entity most at risk of exposure to diseases from wild animals . About 70% of the diseases that humans have today originate from viruses belonging to wildlife, it is estimated that there are around 1.7 million types of viruses that have not been identified to date in mammals and poultry hosts. Approximately 540,000–850,000 species have the potential to infect humans [7, 8] Cross-species transmission of these viruses from animals to humans occurs when humans have close contact with wildlife, which is obtained from the habits of local communities in hunting, consuming, and trading wildlife.
Until today the transmission of zoonotic diseases across species from animals to humans has always threatened the existence of human civilization. From the level of an epidemic to a pandemic, at any time humans are always vulnerable to exposure to zoonotic diseases. We have just passed the Global Pandemic COVID-19 which can be categorized as the worst pandemic in the history of human civilization. Referring to the WHO monitoring of new cases and deaths due to COVID-19 during 2019-2023 which was published via the ourworldindata.org channel, there were around 672 million global cases which caused the death of 6.85 million people worldwide .
Recently, the threat of transmission of zoonotic diseases has re-emerged, now the threat arises from a virus that causes severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS). Scientists revealed that the virus that causes severe fever with thrombocytopenic syndrome (SFTS) was originally transmitted by tick-bites. In the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses 2020, the SFTS Virus is classified as coming from the Phlebovirus genus and is designated as Dabie bandavirus .
The STFS virus transmission to humans was initially discovered in Henan Province, China, in 2009. The STFS virus then spread rapidly to several countries in Asia including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and Pakistan. In China, there were 7721 confirmed cases of SFTS virus infection in humans which caused 810 cases of death in 2012 to 2018. Recently STSF virus became a concern of scientists from all over the world when Japan and Korea updated the latest information on STSF virus infection to In humans, the cumulative cases for this virus infection in Japan have reached 763 cases while in South Korea it has reached 1089 cases with 214 reported deaths .
Research on the SFTS virus shows that this virus has a fatality rate of up to 30% in humans, the fatality rate is very high for diseases that are transmitted through vectors in humans. High fever, vomiting, indigestion are symptoms that accompany patients infected with this virus which, if left untreated, will be followed by thrombocytopenia syndrome, leukopenia, and multiple organ failure . Most cases of transmission of the SFTS virus from animals to humans occur in patients who have direct contact with pets and cattle, transmission occurs through scratches or bites from infected animals or tick-bites [10, 12].
- Van Asch, E., The illegal wildlife trade in East Asia and the Pacific. Transnational organized crime in East Asia and the Pacific: a threat assessment, 2013: p. 75-86.
- UNODC, World Wildlife Crime Report 2020: Trafficking in Protected Species. 2020.
- Korenblik, A., T. Leggett, and T. Shadbolt, World wildlife crime report 2016: Trafficking in protected species. 2016: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
- Jiao, Y., P. Yeophantong, and T.M. Lee, Strengthening international legal cooperation to combat the illegal wildlife trade between Southeast Asia and China. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2021. 9: p. 645427.
- Zhang, L. and F. Yin, Wildlife consumption and conservation awareness in China: a long way to go. Biodiversity and Conservation, 2014. 23(9): p. 2371-2381.
- Tien Ming Lee, A.S., Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez, Robert Nasi The harvest of wildlife for bushmeat and traditional medicine in East, South and Southeast Asia: Current knowledge base, challenges, opportunities and areas for future research. . CIFOR Occasional Paper 115, 2014.
- Keesing, F. and R.S. Ostfeld, Impacts of biodiversity and biodiversity loss on zoonotic diseases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021. 118(17): p. e2023540118.
- Shivaprakash, K.N., et al., Mammals, wildlife trade, and the next global pandemic. Current Biology, 2021. 31(16): p. 3671-3677. e3.
- Ourworldindata.org, Daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people. 2023: ourworldindata.org.
- Chih-Ying Kuan, T.-L.L., Shan-Chia Ou, Shih-Te Chuang , Jacky Peng-Wen Chan, Ken Maeda, Tetsuya Mizutani, Ming-Pin Wu, Fan Lee, Fang-Tse Chan, Chao-Chin Chang, Rui-Ling Liang, Sue-Fung Yang, Tsung-Ching Liu, Wu-Chun Tu, Hau-You Tzeng, Chia-Jung Lee, Chuen-Fu Lin, Hsu-Hsun Lee, Jhih-Hua Wu, Hsiao-Chien Lo, Kuan-Chieh Tseng, Wei-Li Hsu, Chi-Chung Chou, The First Nationwide Surveillance of Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome in Ruminants and Wildlife in Taiwan. Viruses 2023, 15, 441. , 2023.
- Xiao-Lei Ye, K.D., Qing-Bin Lu, Yan-Qin Huang, Shou-Ming Lv, Pan-He Zhang, Jia-Chen Li, Hai-Yang Zhang, Zhen-Dong Yang, Ning Cui, Chun Yuan, Kun Liu, Xiao-Ai Zhang, Jiu-Song Zhang, Hao Li, Yang Yang, Li-Qun Fang & Wei Liu Infection with severe fever with thrombocytopenia virus in healthy population: a cohort study in a high endemic region, China. Infectious Diseases of Poverty volume 10, Article number: 133, 2021.
- Mark Anthony Casel, S.J.P.Y.K.C., Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus: emerging novel phlebovirus and their control strategy. Experimental & Molecular Medicine 53, pages 713–722, 2021.