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Fish market, Epe fish market

Lagos fish, animals markets thrive in spite danger of covid-19

By on August 20, 2020 0 195 Views

Traders at the Fish Market in Epe division of Lagos and other wet animal markets in the state are back on duty buying, selling and trading in animals after the government eased the lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

A vendor removing scales on an endangered pangolin with a machete, near him is another trader with grasscutter rodents being skinned in readiness for sale to buyers while the traders are all wearing masks in compliance with the covid-19 protocol.

Experts say COVID-19, which has killed around 1,000 people in Nigeria, jumped from animals to humans, possibly at a wet market in China, but few sellers in the Epe market were worried over the possible infection from the animals they are selling.

“We are not afraid of it because the coronavirus is not inside the meat,” said vendor Kunle Yusaf. “We do eat the meat, even during this coronavirus, and we do not have any disease.”

University of Cambridge epidemiologist Dr Olivier Restif called for more education around safe animal trade and hygiene.

“We’re very concerned with the risk that it poses,” he said of markets where live animals are kept in close quarters. But he warned that simply banning markets could alienate people and drive trade underground.

The WWF International wildlife charity said the pandemic “should be a wake-up call.” But the booming trade at Epe illustrated unchanged attitudes despite the nearly 800,000 killed worldwide by the virus.

Nigeria is also a hub for illegal wildlife trade to Asia.

Nigeria’s National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) did not respond to requests for comment.

The WWF said the economic strain of the pandemic has sapped conservation budgets in many countries.

Chinedu Mogbo, founder of Green Fingers Wildlife Conservation Initiative, a wildlife sanctuary near Epe, hopes to encourage Nigerians to cut bushmeat consumption and avoid animal-based traditional medicine, which can fuel the unhygienic animal handling that can aid virus transmission.

“I believe they will appreciate them more, coming up close to see them,” Mogbo said.

-With Reuters report

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