The Underlying Message of Covid-19: Treat Animals Well

A white-bellied pangolin. (Memphis Zoo)
A white-bellied pangolin. (Memphis Zoo)

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc upon the world. Around the world, there are now more than 15,000 deaths, with a total of 300,000 confirmed cases.

Yet, there is an underlying message. Researchers at the South China Agricultural University found that a strand of coronavirus found in pangolins was a 99% match to the novel coronavirus that is found in humans. There is not yet a scientific consensus on which animal has spread the virus to humans, but the pangolin remains the prime subject.

The pangolin is the world’s only scaled mammal but remains the world’s most trafficked animal for that very reason. Pangolins are sought after in Asian nations for their scales made out of keratin are believed to cure many illnesses, and their meat is seen as a luxury food. For the record, research has found no evidence that pangolin scales provide any health benefits.

Poaching and animal trafficking have brought pangolins to the brink of extinction. All eight species of pangolin are declining in population, with the Chinese pangolin being listed as critically endangered.

Maybe the Covid-19 pandemic upon humans is retribution from pangolins for taking them to the brink of extinction? Regardless, the way humans treat animals is indicative of the state that the human race is in.

That said, could there be a bright side to Covid-19? Could the outbreak finally put an end to the practice of wild animal trade? In February, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a crackdown on the trading of wild animals in markets. In theory, the wildlife trade has been illegal in China since 1989, but the law is filled with loopholes. However, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress recently announced they would begin crackdowns on the illegal wildlife trade.

Taking similar steps to China is Vietnam, where Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to ban the consumption of wildlife.

The hope is that these governmental steps remain enforced even after the dissipation of Covid-19, but that remains uncertain. However, people will have plenty of free time on their hands. Rather than spending it all binging a TV show, maybe take a hike or a walk; enjoy the animals and nature around you and be lucky that you still have it.

About the Author
Blake is a 12th Grader at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, PA. He is currently the Political and Press Director of the High School Democrats of Pennsylvania.
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