Indonesia markets continue to sell reptiles, rabbits and birds in filthy cages despite coronavirus

·3-min read
Animals from different species - birds, rabbits, cats and reptiles - are crammed in small cages in close proximity to be sold for either consumption or collection in Bali's Satria Market: PETA Asia
Animals from different species - birds, rabbits, cats and reptiles - are crammed in small cages in close proximity to be sold for either consumption or collection in Bali's Satria Market: PETA Asia

Live animal markets in Indonesia are continuing to sell species for consumption in filthy conditions despite the ongoing pandemic.

The markets had reportedly seen a drop in the number of visitors coming to browse birds, reptiles,, rabbits and dogs as the coronavirus outbreak forced them to close in April.

But footage taken earlier this month by campaign group PETA, seen by The Independent, shows traders in the Satria Market in Bali continuing to tout the animals, which are kept in filthy cages “covered with layers of rotten food and faeces” without clean or sufficient water.

According to the animal rights organisation, some cages contained both dead and live animals in the same space.

A PETA Asia investigator visited the market on 22 April and again on 3 and 4 May. Animals from a number of different species were kept in close proximity, including birds sold for their meat.

Small puppies languished in a low cage jammed up next to birds whose feathers appeared to have been plucked out. In another area, what appears to be two Indonesian northern blue-tongued skinks sit in a filthy-looking aquarium.

Dozens of chicks are packed into small enclosures, whilst rabbits, cats and birds are all stacked on top of one another in cages.

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk said: “The next deadly pandemic is inevitable as long as markets filled with sick and stressed animals are still open.

“PETA is calling on government officials to shut down these petri dishes for pandemics.”

Small puppies languished in a low cage jammed up next to birds whose feathers appeared to have been plucked out. In another area, what appears to be two Indonesian northern blue-tongued skinks sit in a filthy-looking aquarium.

Dozens of chicks are packed into small enclosures, whilst rabbits, cats and birds are all stacked on top of one another in cages.

Satria Market, located in the southern town of Denpasar, is a popular tourist destination and is usually full of domestic and foreign visitors on weekends.

According to South China Morning Post, some traders in the market also illegally sell protected animals such as bobcats, otters and eagles. The Indonesian government has done little to stop the trade of wildlife in the country's markets.

Earlier this month, a coalition of animal rights groups wrote to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo warning him of the risks posed by the trade of wildlife, as well as dog and cat meat, in the country’s live animal markets.

The Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition wrote: “Despite the worsening situation of the pandemic globally and throughout Indonesia, with all 34 provinces now affected and over 13,000 coronavirus infections and nearly 1,000 deaths nationwide, the sale of wild animals including bats, rats and reptiles alongside dogs and cats and other domesticated animals in markets throughout the country continues unchallenged.

“This is in defiance to ever-growing calls from governments, inter-governmental human and animal health experts and key stakeholders from around the world for the immediate closure of live animal markets globally.

“It is impossible to ensure that meat sold at these markets is safe for human consumption, and given the unhygienic conditions, it is only a matter of time before the next deadly zoonotic disease emerges.”

The Animals Asia Foundation was one of the charities in the coalition who signed the letter. The founder, Dr Jill Robinson MBE, expressed her “100 per cent” support for The Independent’s campaign to ban the wildlife trade.

Dr Robinson told The Independent that live animal markets are “dirty, dangerous places” that cannot be properly regulated, least of all in countries where “no animal welfare regulations exist, or are poorly enforced if they do”.

The trade of wildlife was thrown into the spotlight as the coronavirus is believed to have emerged from a seafood market in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. 27 of the first 41 people who became infected with Covid-19 had been exposed to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, according to a study published in medical journal, The Lancet.

Researchers believe the Covid-19 "jumped" from an animal to a human in a “zoonotic spillover” event.

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