Officials in Thailand said Thursday that they are stepping up efforts to curb wildlife trade in order to help reduce the risk of future pandemics, though it was unclear whether this meant an end to all such sales in the wildlife trafficking hotspot.
Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment Waravut Silpa-archa said Thursday that the government wants to make Thailand “free of the legal wildlife trade” while also combating illegal wildlife trafficking.
Silpa-archa and other officials said the pandemic has increased the urgency of shutting down the supply chain of wildlife and game meat that may harbor pathogens that cause COVID-19, Ebola, and other illnesses in people, speaking in pre-recorded addresses.
“Stop disease and extinctions: Never eat, buy, hunt, or sell wildlife,” he said as the campaign’s slogan.
It was impossible to ask if authorities plan to close markets that still sell a variety of animal species, even in downtown Bangkok, because the minister delivered his remarks via videoconference.
As Thailand battles its worst wave of coronavirus illnesses since the pandemic began, some markets are closed, at least for the time being. The first case outside of China was discovered in Bangkok, but the number of infections remained low until April, when the number of cases increased despite strict entry restrictions.