As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, PETA India is releasing a video compilation of our country’s live-animal markets (aka “wet markets”) and wildlife meat markets, which are filled with bodily fluids, raw meat, and sick, stressed animals. Such places operate in rampant violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001; and/or the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
The unsanitary conditions are ideal for spreading disease, and many experts believe that the novel coronavirus – which has already killed over 3.3 million people worldwide – first infected humans or spread through wildlife in a wet market in Wuhan, China. PETA India is calling on authorities to close down all such live-animal and wildlife markets and follow the lead of China, where there is a plan to phase out live-poultry markets like those found throughout India, because they risk spreading diseases.
PETA India’s footage shows men at Ghazipur Murga Mandi in Delhi slitting live chickens’ throats, skinning the birds, and sorting through their flesh, which was soaked with blood and guts, with their bare hands. There were bags of live, struggling crabs and eels at a fish market in Malancha, West Bengal. Captured dogs were killed and sold for meat at the Keera Bazaar in Dimapur, Nagaland, and near Mao Market in Kohima, Nagaland. (Nagaland banned dog-meat sales, but this is now being deliberated by the Gauhati High Court following a challenge by dog-meat traders.) In Manipur, sellers at the Nute Bazaar handled the charred remains of wild animals – including monkeys, wild boars, porcupines, and deer – and at the Churachandpur market, meat from various wild animals was sold.
The Next Pandemic Could Start in India
All such markets are potential breeding grounds for and opportunities to spread zoonotic diseases (diseases that jump from animals to humans). COVID-19, H5N1 (aka “bird flu”), SARS, and H1N1 (aka “swine flu”) are among those zoonotic diseases linked back to the treatment of animals used for food. The only way to make these markets safe is to close them.
Blood, excrement, and other bodily fluids can easily get on sellers’ and customers’ shoes and be tracked into homes. As the video footage shows, workers who handle the animals often don’t wear protective gear. Flies swarm around decomposing bodies, and the countertops and floors are bloodstained from slaughtering animals.
PETA India has already written to the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare; Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying to request that they close these cruel and dangerous operations immediately.