COVID-19 has origins in wildlife trade: BirdLife

COVID-19 has origins in wildlife trade: BirdLife International

Representative image. (Reuters Photo)

The coronavirus or COVID-19 has origins in wildlife trade, according to BirdLife International, a global partnership that strives to conserve birds and their habitats.

According to Patricia Zurita, CEO, BirdLife International: "Indeed, there are strong indications that the current outbreak of the coronavirus originated in a seafood market illegally selling wildlife in Wuhan, China, and a line of thinking that the virus has passed during transport or trade from bats to pangolins to people."

Zurita, who heads the vast organisation headquartered in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said this must be a wake-up call that we need to have greater respect for nature and that the trade of wildlife needs to be tackled.

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It is not the first time that the world has been threatened by a pandemic likely to have originated from trade in wildlife.

The SARS outbreak in 2003, which broke out in Guangdong, China, is thought to have originated in bats and spread via civet cats to humans.

"Quite understandably at the moment, the environment isn’t at the forefront of most people’s minds. However, some may argue that it should be, because biodiversity and the spread of pandemics are closely entwined," added Zurita.

According to the World Economic Forum, the increase in disease outbreaks over the past decades is linked to climate change and biodiversity loss.

For example, deforestation is linked to 31% of disease outbreaks, including Ebola and the Zika virus, because felling trees drives animals out of their natural habitats, making them more likely to come into contact with humans and pass on the disease.  
 

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