Wildlife trade is a big and burgeoning business, but its welfare impacts have not been studied comprehensively. We review the animal welfare impacts of the wildlife trade as they were reported in the literature between 2006 and 2011. Rarely was the term welfare mentioned, evidence of welfare impact documented, or welfare improvement recommended. Literature focused on mammals and on animals killed on site, for luxury goods or food, and for traditional medicine. Welfare impacts may be underreported, particularly in international, illegal, and wild-caught trade and trade in reptiles. Greater attention should perhaps be paid to the welfare of animals traded alive and in larger numbers (e.g., birds, reptiles, amphibians) and to those—including mammals—potentially subject to greater impacts through live use (e.g., as pets). More evidence-based research is needed. Animal welfare should be integrated with wider issues; collaboration between conservationists and welfarists and the development of health and welfare levers to influence trade offer benefits to both people and wildlife.
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Vol. 63 • No. 12