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Germany-based not-for-profit, the Rainforest Rescue, is calling for a global ban on wildlife markets, which it is blaming for the current coronavirus pandemic.

Huanan Seafood Market
Huanan Seafood Market in China

According to Reinhard Behrend, who heads the group, the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China, has cast a harsh light on wildlife markets, adding that the Huanan Seafood Market, which offers a variety of live and freshly slaughtered animals, is suspected to be the pandemic’s Ground Zero.

In addition to seafood, the meat of some 30 terrestrial animal species is said to be available there, including pangolins, civets, squirrels, pheasants, scorpions, snakes and a variety of rats.

According to genetic analyses, bats are the original hosts of the virus, but animals from the wildlife market are believed to have transmitted them to humans.

“Such markets not only spread diseases: by selling poached, endangered animals such as pangolins, the trade is driving species toward extinction.

“Hunting and the wildlife trade, like climate change and habitat destruction, are among the causes of a looming mass extinction, as a 2019 UN report warned. Up to one million animal and plant species could soon vanish forever.

“Some forests are already deemed “empty” in the wake of rampant hunting and poaching,” Behrend said.

In October, China will host a UN conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity, where representatives of nearly 200 countries will seek ways to stop the mass extinction.

Behrend believes that now is the time to push for a worldwide ban on the wildlife trade.

His words: “Wildlife markets encourage the poaching of endangered species and facilitate the spread of diseases. It’s time to shut them down.

“This problem goes beyond China and the current coronavirus pandemic and is driving the extinction of species in many countries, so we are calling for the worldwide closure of wildlife markets.”

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