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pigs faceChallenges of animal protection and welfare in the context of COVID019 Pandemic
 – an online student webinar


Year: 2021

Dr Sara Platto
Jianghan University, P.R. China

Grant: £1,260


The COVID-19 pandemic completely altered every aspect of our lives, causing a huge impact of the world economies, with job losses, and medical crisis, affecting also less obvious fields such as animal welfare. For example, people with limited means will feel to bear a huge weight to care for another animal, while living in a constant state of emergency. This situation has led to the relinquishment or abandonment of pets. In the worse of cases, lockdowns have exacerbated the cases of abuses which include pets. Challenges have also been encountered in the livestock industry, with lockdowns and other restrictive actions having posed limitation to human activities including veterinary care and general husbandry routines. For example, some farmers might have to cull a certain number of their animals with procedures not in line with animal welfare, to decrease the population inside the farms. Therefore, the current situation has a huge social implication in the livestock industry, as among the 600 million of livestock keepers, two third are women with a consequent impact on their economic empowerment.

The increase of animal slaughter during the pandemic have also raised concerns regarding carcass disposal and the impact on the environment. Moreover, tackling illegal wildlife trade represents one of the major issues of the current pandemic. Nevertheless, some proposed actions might take away informal food systems (wet markets), resources for the world's most vulnerable people, contributing to the crisis of food security for millions of people in developing countries. In addition, a full wildlife ban can cause the trade to go underground, making it more difficult to be regulated, whereas a sustainable wildlife trade might provide key incentives for local people to actively protect animal species and their habitat. Focusing only on wildlife trade might cause other key drivers of the emergence of zoonosis to be overlooked, such as land use, deforestation, and massive livestock production.

The webinar (held on 8 January 2021) featured experts in the field of Wildlife Protection Law, Farm Animal Welfare, Small Animal Protection, and Animal Abuse who introduced the students to the situation at the time and challenges that these fields are encountering in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. The experts also outlined possible solutions and approaches by which the challenges can be responded to. The webinar represented an opportunity for Chinese university students to become familiar with the topics and to discover new lines of work for their future careers.