Albania’s online trade in bears and wolves "out of control" despite zoonosis risk

Albania’s online trade in bears and wolves
By bne IntelliNews June 17, 2020

Investigators from the animal welfare organisation Four Paws say trade in wildlife is “out of control” in Albania. They reported illegally hunted bears and other wild animals offered for sale online, while bear meat was openly offered at a restaurant in the Albanian town of Drilon. 

Experts have warned that using bears and other wild animals for food could lead to zoonotic disease outbreaks similar to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that spread across the globe within months and crippled the world’s economy. 

"Legally protected native wildlife such as brown bears, wolves and birds of prey and exotic animals such as monkeys are being offered for sale on Albania's most visited online marketplaces, such as MerrJep and Mirlir," Four Paws said last week.

All of the advertised animals are legally protected species in Albania.

The buyers are mostly private individuals and restaurant owners who make the animals perform as guest attractions.

According to the NGO’s investigation an unnamed restaurant in Drilon advertised bear meat on its menu on Facebook. 

Four Paws is now urging the Albanian government to intervene quickly and protect animals.

Four Paws has been active in Albania since 2015, but this is the first time it has observed illegal trade in wild animals on such a scale.