While the jury is still out as to the exact origins of Covid 19, the even the potential of animal involvement as a cause, or vector, must raise questions regarding the human-animal relationship, and the governance of that relationship.. There are those who are of the view that the pandemic should not have come as a surprise when it emerged, as zoonotic diseases were one of the threats scientists had been warning governments and the public about for years. Since the pandemic began, it has reportedly been transmitted from animals through markets in China and then carried across the globe by unsuspecting human travellers of all kinds. Concurrently, there has been an effect on animals.
So what is the role of animal law and how does it perform in governing the impact of human activity on animals? The overall effect on animals of Covid19 has yet to be measured and will form the basis of future research. However, the Covid19 outbreak is part of the family of collective concerns that clearly demonstrates human impact on the natural world in a range of activities including, for example, people's use of animals as food, tools for medical research, medicine, and the clearance of land for farming and forestry. There has reportedly been an economic impact on zoos and wildlife parks and an increase in animal cruelty during the period of lockdown. Loss of income from conservation tourism, such as safaris, may lead to a move to more agriculture, resulting in the destruction of forests, and more poaching. There is emerging evidence that poaching has escalated due to increased demand for items such as rhino horn which, although dismissed by scientists, was falsely claimed to be a cure for Covid19. The impact of the pandemic has theoretically also led to a lack of rangers in the field who previously protected these animals. In addition, the world faces its continuing race to slow down climate change that is forecast to reap further havoc on environments, animals and human societies across the globe.
The Liverpool Law review has a special addition focusing on issues of animal law that you may want to have a look at.