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World Animal Protection calls on WHO to ban wildlife markets

COVID-19 is largely suspected to have originated from a wildlife market

April 7, 2020  by CM Staff

Pangolins are considered the most heavily trafficked animal in the world. Their keratin scales are removed, which are highly valued in traditional medicine. Their meat is also consumed and is considered a delicacy. PHOTO: World Animal Protection 

TORONTO — With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing on, over 200 organizations, including World Animal Protection, Humane Society International and Born Free have issued a letter urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to endorse a permanent ban on live wildlife markets and the use of wildlife in traditional medicine.

Sent on World Health Day, the letter highlighted the suspected COVID-19 link to a live wildlife market in China, and called on WHO to recommend that governments worldwide permanently ban live wildlife markets and the use of wildlife in traditional medicine.

According to the letter, these actions could help protect human life from future pandemics such as COVID-19, with 60% of emerging infectious diseases being zoonotic, meaning they originate from animals, and 70% of those are thought to originate from wild animals.

“While a robust global response is critical in detecting, treating and reducing transmission [of COVID-19], it is equally necessary to take vital measures to prevent similar emerging infectious diseases developing into pandemics with the associated threats to human life and social and economic well-being,” The letter said.

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A ban on wildlife markets can prevent unregulated and unhygienic conditions and the close proximity between humans and animals, which provides an opportunity for pathogens to spread, according to World Animal Protection.

“We all commend WHO’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Gilbert Sape, head of the Wildlife Not Medicine campaign at World Animal Protection, in a prepared statement. “Given this pandemic is believed to have originated at a wildlife market, we’re calling on WHO to unequivocally state the proven link between these markets and the serious threats they can cause to human health.”

Sape added that WHO can help prevent future pandemics by excluding the use of wildlife from their endorsement of traditional medicine, as plant-based alternatives are available.


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