Dr Ibrahim Goni, Conservator-General (CG), National Park Service has cautioned Nigerians against the consumption of wildlife, identified as the origin of COVID-19 pandemic.
Goni made the call in a statement issued to commemorate the World Environment Day on Friday in Lagos.
He also called for intensified campaign against the consumption of wildlife.
Also, zoonotic diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites that spread between animals and human being.
“The consumption of wildlife, as the likely origin of COVID-19, should not be left out in the prevention campaign of the deadly virus,’’ he said.
Therefore, he said there is a need for an aggressive awareness campaign on the likely origin of the virus.
“To treat any illness successfully, you first identify the cause of the problem, treat the cause and the sickness goes away.
“Therefore, the same way it has been thrust into the consciousness of everyone to wash hands with soap, use sanitisers, wear nose masks, maintain necessary distancing, is the same way this campaign about wildlife should be pressed.
“The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life,’’ Goni said.
According to him, increased and sustained closeness and interaction with wildlife have led to many zoonotic diseases ravaging the world, including the COVID-19.
“People still eat and sell various species of dead monkeys, cats, birds, bats and pangolins, which are suspected to be at the centre of the COVID-19 scourge.
“But sadly, that is not the case.’’
He said that vampire bats that drink their victim’s blood can transmit diseases.
“So, touching a bat that has a wound, abrasion, or scratch with bare hands, is considered a potential exposure to virus,’’ he said.
He cautioned that wildlife belonged to the wild and, therefore, should be left in the wild, advising the public to be cautious when handling animals, especially as pets and for consumption.
According to Goni, when the ecosystem is disrupted and the viruses are let loose from their natural hosts, they will need a new host and often, humans are the new hosts.
“The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable, all come from nature and despite all the benefits that nature gives us, we still mistreat it.
“Biodiversity is the foundation that supports all life and it affects every aspect of human life, including natural disease resistance and climate change mitigation.
“Therefore, removing one element of this web affects the entire life system and can produce negative consequences.