Conservation groups around the world have joined hands to surge pressure on the World Health Organisation (WHO) for closing the trading and consuming while life animals are proved to be the primary source of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
More than 200 conservation groups across the world have signed an open letter calling on the organisation to do all it can to prevent new diseases emerging from wildlife trade and spreading into global pandemics, reports Independent.
Scientists say the evidence points to Covid-19 originating from animals – most likely bats – in "wet" markets where live and dead creatures, from dogs and hares to turtles, are sold as food and slaughtered on demand.
Apart form the present one, previous epidemics such as Ebola and MERS were also originated from wildlife animals.
Ever since evidence of the Covid-19 link to Wuhan's wet markets was revealed earlier this year, experts worldwide have called for such places to be shut down because of the risk of starting dangerous diseases.
The new joint letter calls on the WHO to recommend to governments worldwide that they bring in permanent bans on live wildlife markets and close down or limit trade in wildlife to reduce the threat to human health.
It should also support and encourage initiatives that deliver alternative sources of protein to people who survive on eating wild animals.
The letter, coordinated by wildlife charity Born Free and its Lion Coalition partners, is backed by organisations including the Bat Conservation Trust, International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Zoological Society of London.
Humane Society International said warning the governments "The emergence of another coronavirus-based disease in the future is a practical certainty".
The United Nations' biodiversity chief Elizabeth Maruma Mrema said "The message we are getting is if we don't take care of nature, it will take care of us," she told The Guardian, but cautioned poor communities would need support to prevent them trading illegally and driving species extinctions.
Markets selling live animals – both captured from the wild and bred in captivity – are popular in Southeast Asia but also exist in Africa and South America.
Mark Jones, the head of policy at Born Free said "We need to dig deep and reset our fundamental relationship with the natural world, rethink our place in it and treat our planet and all its inhabitants with a great deal more respect, for its sake and for ours,"
"Once Covid-19 is hopefully behind us, returning to business as usual cannot be an option." he added.
In February, the Chinese government temporarily banned such markets, although there is evidence some sellers have started up again or are dealing online.
But a survey conducted by WWF in Hong Kong, Japan, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, found 93 percent of people supported eliminating illegal and unregulated wildlife markets.
Influential organisations including the RSPCA, Humane Society International, Peta, the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society, World Animal Protection and Four Paws International have all spoken out against wildlife trading since the Covid-19 pandemic began.