Two wildlife NGOs yesterday issued separate statements calling on citizens to cease the trade and consumption of illegal wildlife amid fears stemming from novel coronavirus.
The Wildlife Alliance in its statement said the virus, which infected more than 7,700 people in 18 countries, has been traced back to the consumption of wildlife meat in China’s Wuhan city.
It said wildlife consumption also caused the deadly SARS and Ebola epidemics.
“Please stop hunting wild animals for trophies and stop eating wildlife meat. Not just the meat of wild boar and deer, but also of pangolins,” Wildlife Alliance CEO Suwanna Gauntlett said in the statement. “All these wild meats are now dangerous and can put the consumers health at risk. As long as Cambodia’s wildlife trade continues, the risk will continue to threaten the health of Cambodians.”
She added law enforcement alone is not enough to curb illegal wildlife trade in the Kingdom.
“The demand from consumers of wildlife needs to stop. If we can reduce demand then we will reduce the supply. Reducing demand means reducing public health risk.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society in its statement said when livestock is mixed with wildlife, viruses have the opportunity to spread to humans.
“It is time to close live animal markets that trade in wildlife, strengthen efforts to combat trafficking of wild animals,” Christian Walzer, executive director of WCS’ health programme, said.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday said wildlife trade is illegal in the Kingdom and ministry officials have inspected restaurants suspected of serving bush meat.
“The ministry regularly informs [the public] the risk of wildlife meat consumption because it could contain viruses,” Mr Pheaktra said.
According to media reports, China’s National Health Commission said there were 5,974 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in mainland China, including 132 deaths as of Wednesday.