As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, there have been widespread theories about where the virus originated. Scientists believe that the disease could have come through pangolins in the Wuhan wildlife market in China. Authorities in China have closed down the market in Wuhan and even Vietnam is planning a similar step.

The Chinese authorities have closed down around 20,000 wildlife farms to curb wildlife trade. The shutdown of the market in China has been appreciated by conservationists and others who believe that this was a necessary step.

But there is one country that is still finding it hard to shut down the trade. Nigeria, one of the largest traders in wildlife in Africa, has reportedly been continuing the trade in pangolins.

Pangolin
Representational Picture Wikimedia Commons

Endangered mammals are traded the most

The scaly animals who are widely seen in Sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia are one of the most trafficked mammals in the world. Their scales are used in medicines. They are also trafficked for their meat.

During an investigation by Wildlife Justice Commission, it was noticed that 55 per cent of the pangolins seized globally between 2016 and 2019 were from Nigeria.

Several organizations are urging Nigeria to stop the pangolin trade. The country has been urged to close down the wildlife markets and crack down on the bushmeat trade. The bushmeat, used to make local delicacies, is often obtained from animals in the wild.

Even though there is a fine on the first time offence of hunting or selling a pangolin, it is viewed as an inadequate measure by activists. Compared to other African countries, Nigeria doesn't have strict laws against such illegal trade. Uganda enforces strict laws against people involved in hunting or selling of wildlife animals.

Conservationists believe that the ban on wildlife trade will be permanent in China. Researchers from South China claimed that pangolins could be the intermediate host of the novel coronavirus and this has been substantiated by evidence through genome sequence collected from pangolins and infected people.

Coronavirus in Nigeria

On Tuesday, March 24, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took a Covid-19 test which came out negative. Mallam Abba Kyari, his chief of staff, tested positive for the new coronavirus. There have been reports of deaths caused by chloroquine poisoning in the country as well.

So far there has been one case of death due to coronavirus in the country.