Wildlife trade has been widely discussed as a likely origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. It remains unclear how the main actors in the wildlife trade chain responded to these discussions and to the campaigns advocating wildlife trade bans. We analyzed the content of ∼ 20,000 posts on 41 Facebook groups devoted to wild pet trade and ran a breakpoint and a content analysis to assess when and how the COVID-19 pandemic was incorporated into the discourse within trade communities. Only 0.04% of advertisements mentioned COVID-19, mostly after WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. No traders discussed the role of trade in spreading diseases; instead, posts stimulated the trade in wild species during lockdown. COVID-19 potentially offers persuasive arguments for reducing wildlife trade and consumption. This effect was not demonstrated by on-the-ground actors involved in this market. Bans in wildlife trade will not be sufficient and additional strategies are clearly needed.
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2021|