A customer wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus orders medicine through plastic sheets in front of drug store in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, May 27, 2021.
A fruit vendor wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus pushes her cart past giant Buddhist statues for sale in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, May 27, 2021.
Customers wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus order medicine through plastic sheets front of drug store in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, May 27, 2021.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand is ramping up efforts to curb trade in wildlife to help reduce the risk of future pandemics, officials said Thursday, though it was unclear whether that would mean an end to all sales of exotic species in the wildlife trafficking hub.
The government intends to make Thailand “free of the legal wildlife trade” while also combatting illegal trafficking in wild animals, Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment Waravut Silpa-archa said Thursday.
Speaking in pre-recorded addresses, Silpa-archa and other officials said the pandemic has raised the urgency of shutting down the supply chain of wildlife and game meat that is thought to be a key factor in the spread of COVID-19, Ebola and other illnesses.
The motto for the campaign, he said, is, “Stop disease and extinctions: Never eat, buy, hunt or sell wildlife.”
Since the minister delivered his remarks remotely, it was not possible to ask if authorities plan to shutter markets that still sell a variety of exotic species, even in downtown Bangkok.
Some markets are closed, at least for now, as Thailand grapples with its worst wave of coronavirus outbreaks since the pandemic began. The first case outside of China surfaced in Bangkok, but the number of infections remained low until this April, when cases surged despite strict quarantines for people entering the country.