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Covid-19: Worldwide call for ban on wildlife markets

This is an excerpt from an article written by Laura du Toit and published online by GroundUp on 09 April, 2020

Appeal sent to World Health Organisation to publicly confirm threat posed to health.

Conservationists have welcomed the Chinese government’s ban on the consumption of wild animal products, but have voiced concerns it may drive sales underground.

This emerged during an online meeting of numerous international conservation organisations, hosted by the South African-based Blood Lions team on Tuesday.

Although not conclusive, evidence suggests humans may have contracted the coronavirus from consuming pangolins, which may have picked up the disease from bats.

In February, a standing committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress agreed to a “complete ban of illegal wildlife trade and the elimination of the unhealthy habit of indiscriminate wild animal meat consumption”.

Dr Louise de Waal, campaign manager for Blood Lions, said this was a step in the right direction, but the committee had not addressed “special circumstances” which allowed for the use of wild animals for scientific research, medical use, and display.

“This could mean that the use of lion bones for traditional Chinese medicine be made exempt from the wildlife consumption ban,” said De Waal.

Blood Lions, both the title of the 2015 documentary on canned lion hunting and a coalition against captive lion breeding, was one of 240 conservation organisations that sent an appeal to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to publicly confirm the threat of wildlife markets to human health.

The letter was followed by the meeting, open to the public on Twitter and timed to coincide with World Health Day.

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