Covid: Indonesian markets discovered slaughtering and selling live bats, rats and dogs

Exclusive: ‘Insanitary’ markets continue to function unaffected by pandemic, in defiance of call by World Health Organisation to curb risks

Jane Dalton
Sunday 11 July 2021 21:47
Comments
Traders seen selling dead bats, live ducks and dyed chicks

Street stalls in Indonesia have been found still slaughtering and selling an array of animals including bats – more than a year after markets in China selling the creatures were first identified as a likely source of Covid-19.

Chinese authorities shut down the market in Wuhan and outlawed sales of live animals on the street in an effort to clean up the country’s reputation after the coronavirus outbreak.

Scientists suspect the virus originated in bats on sale at Wuhan and jumped to humans via other species, possibly pangolins.

But investigators on the island of Sulawesi – one of the country’s largest – discovered sellers touting bats and rats, alongside pigs, dogs, snakes, frogs, chickens and ducks.

Many were seen crammed tightly into cages or being tied up or blowtorched.

Traders were also selling chicks that had been dyed bright colours to be kept as pets but that were unlikely to survive.

Sources told the investigators from animal welfare organisation Four Paws that the markets have continued to function unaffected by the pandemic, even though the World Health Organisation has called for live animal street sales to be ended.

Experts say the insanitary conditions of live-animal markets are breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases, those that can jump from animals to humans.

Cramming species into cages in unnatural conditions drastically raises animals’ stress levels, which makes them more susceptible to disease.

And putting in close contact animal types that would never normally meet in the wild increases the chances of viruses moving between species.

The witnesses, who visited three markets, said the conditions were insanitary and cruel.

Bats, dogs and birds were found in high numbers at Langowan market and Karombasan market, and many bats were found at Beriman market, as well as rats, a pile of snakes and the dyed chicks – a “brutal and toxic” sales gimmick to entice parents to buy them for their children.

Injured dogs were crammed together in tiny cages, waiting to be slaughtered.

Workers were not wearing gloves when they handled dead or live animals, and stalls were “partly covered with animal body parts and the floors with puddles of blood and maggots”, Four Paws reported.

A trader sells live ducks and carcasses of newly killed animals

One investigator said: “Covid-19 should make us pay more attention to how we treat animals. Keeping various stressed species in close proximity in cruel and unsanitary conditions, the brutal handling and slaughtering and the resulting waste and fluids are the perfect breeding ground for zoonotic diseases.”

After China’s live-animal markets were linked to the emergence of the coronavirus, governments worldwide faced a clamour of calls to ban live animal slaughter markets.

Scientists have warned the way animals are reared for consumption – both in cramped markets and on industrial farms - creates the risk of pandemics that would make Covid look like a “dress rehearsal”.

Boris Johnson’s then-fiancee Carrie Symonds backed a global movement to pressure world governments into banning the world’s trade in wildlife.

The WHO says that globally about a billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from zoonoses and that 75 per cent of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases originate in wild animals.

Ebola was traced to people eating bats, and HIV was believed to have emerged from people eating chimpanzee meat.

On the one-year anniversary of Covid-19 being declared a pandemic earlier this year, Four Paws accused the UN and governments of tackling the symptoms but not the root cause of the pandemic.

Dead bats on sale

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in