This is an excerpt from an article published online by News24 on 07 April, 2020.
The Ministries and Departments of Health, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and the Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development were sent an urgent letter and science-based white paper from Humane Society International-Africa (HSI). The HSI is calling for immediate action to ban wildlife trade, transport and consumption – particularly of mammals and birds which are known to contract coronaviruses – in order to address the threat they pose to public health in addition to animal welfare and species conservation.
The urgent plea to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, and the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, as well as the Director of Veterinary Public Health, Dr Mphane Molefe, is part of a coordinated action by HSI to governments across the globe in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the exact origins of the current coronavirus are still unknown, it likely originated in a market in Wuhan, China, selling and slaughtering live wild animals on site. Multiple infectious disease outbreaks have been tied to the wildlife trade including SARS in 2003 which is believed to have been passed to humans by civets sold for meat.
An estimated 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic (spread from non-human animals to humans).