The UN’s biodiversity chief has called for a global ban on wildlife markets to prevent the outbreak of future pandemics.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema told the BBC that the practice of buying and selling wild animals in markets can pose a threat to human health as well as to endangered species.
“We know over the last 60 years the majority of the new zoonotic diseases have emerged as the result of human activities … pushing wild animals into closer contact with humans and increasing the risk of transmission,” Mrema said.
“Therefore we need to ensure that wet markets are well regulated, clean and not linked to the illegal trade of wild animals.”
She acknowledged that many rural communities around the world depend on wildlife trade for “for economic and food security reasons”.
China has placed a temporary ban on the consumption of wild animals, following reports that the current global coronavirus pandemic originated in a market in Wuhan where live animals were bought and sold – though there is still no definitive proof the market was the source of the outbreak.