Measures adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and economic shocks caused by the pandemic have affected food networks globally, including wild meat trade networks that support the livelihoods and food security of millions of people around the world. In this article, we examine how COVID-related shocks have affected the vulnerability and coping strategies of different actors along wild meat trade networks. Informed by 1,876 questionnaires carried out with wild meat hunters, traders, vendors, and consumers in Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Guyana, the article presents qualitative evidence as to how COVID-19 impacted different segments of society involved in wild meat trade networks. Our findings largely align with McNamara et al. (2020) and Kamogne Tagne et al.’s (2022) causal model hypothesising how the impacts of the pandemic could lead to a change in local incentives for wild meat hunting in sub-Saharan African countries. Like McNamara et al. (2020) and Kamogne Tagne et al. (2022), we find that the pandemic reduced wild meat availability for wild meat actors in urban areas while increasing reliance on wild meat for subsistence purposes in rural areas. However, we find some impact pathways to be more relevant than others, and also incorporate additional impact pathways into the existing causal model. Based on our findings, we argue that wild meat serves as an important safety net in response to shocks for some actors in wild meat trade networks. We conclude by advocating for policies and development interventions that seek to improve the safety and sustainability of wild meat trade networks and protect access to wild meat as an environmental coping strategy during times of crisis.