Charities demand an end to China’s craze for wild meat linked to coronavirus outbreak
- An argument is mounting among conservationists about the use of ‘wet markets’
- One such wet market in Wuhan, China, is believed to be the origin of Covid-19
- Live and dead creatures are sold for eating and stored in cramped conditions
- Over 200 wildlife groups signed an open letter to the World Health Organisation
- The WHO is now being urged to shut the markets to stop future pandemics
Global health bosses should urge countries to shut down wild animal markets such as the one in China where coronavirus is believed to have started, say conservationists.
More than 200 wildlife groups worldwide issued their call in an open letter to the World Health Organisation, saying it would stop future pandemics.
The evidence suggests Covid-19 has animal origins, most likely from bats, and may have come from a ‘wet market’ – where live and dead creatures are sold for eating – in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Controversial ‘wet markets’ are now being widely discussed by conservationists, with wildlife groups writing to the WHO to urge for their worldwide closure in order to prevent pandemics
Other pandemics, including Sars and Ebola, have also been linked to viruses spreading from animals to people.
Dr Mark Jones, head of policy at Born Free, one of the charities involved, said: ‘Once Covid-19 is behind us, returning to business as usual cannot be an option.
‘We need to dig deep and reset our fundamental relationship with the natural world, rethink our place in it and treat our planet and all its inhabitants with a great deal more respect, for its sake and for ours.’
The letter also wants the WHO to raise the alarm about the risks posed to human health by the wildlife trade.
The charities back initiatives to find alternative sources of protein for people who survive by eating wild animals.
Dr Jones said markets selling live wild animals were found in many countries and had rapidly expanded.
Evidence suggests Covid-19 has animal origins, most likely from bats, and may have come from a ‘wet market’ – where live and dead creatures are sold for eating – in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The trade in wild animals is also a major factor in global declines in wildlife, he added. The letter was co-ordinated by Born Free and its Lion Coalition partners.
It has been backed by other groups including the Bat Conservation Trust and Zoological Society of London.
Last month, a survey by wildlife charity WWF in Hong Kong, Japan, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam found 93 per cent backed official action to eliminate illegal markets.