Wildlife & Biodiversity

COVID-19: Shut pet markets, animal protection organisation urges PM

The animal rights organisation said that both SARS and COVID-19 were caused by viruses linked to wildlife markets in China  

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Monday 13 April 2020

An animal protection organisation — Humane Society International, India (HSI) — wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi April 7, 2020, urging him to immediately ban animal markets and fairs across the country to control the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread.  

The HSI claimed that both severe acute respiratory syndrome and COVID-19 were caused by viruses linked to wildlife markets in China.

In the letter, HSI suggested that Crawford Market in Maharashtra; Russell Market in Karnataka; Murgi Chowk in Telangana; and Mir Shikar Toli in Bihar be banned.

“Scientists have warned that wildlife markets in China and other countries were ticking ‘time bombs’ waiting for coronaviruses to start another pandemic,” the letter written by Alokparna Sengupta, managing director, HSI read. 

Besides banning these markets, the letter also requested the PM to ban import and export of exotic species till a legislation, in line with the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of flora and fauna (CITES), is brought in to regulate the in-country breeding and trade in exotic species of wildlife. 

India is a party to CITES, an international convention which aims to preserve wild flora and fauna by restricting and regulating trade in endangered species. 

“We also request that a high-level intergovernmental policymaker group be tasked with reviewing and implementing necessary policy actions pertaining to wildlife trade. Although disease outbreaks like COVID-19 may have only a single country source, their impacts are global,” the letter added. 

In another letter, over 241 animal welfare organisations around the world wrote to World Health Organisation (WHO) to ban wildlife markets. 

“The demand for wildlife and wildlife products is a primary cause of spread of zoonotic diseases. We call on the WHO to recognise that it plays a significant role in mitigating global health risks,” the joint letter written on April 6 stated.  


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