Coronavirus Shows Risk Of Endangered Animal Trade, SF Group Asserts

A woman displays pangolin scales on February 17, 2016 in Mong La, Myanmar.
Photo credit Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

A San Francisco-based endangered species rescue group is sounding the alarm over a possible carrier of the coronavirus

Researchers in China are suggesting the deadly virus, known as Covid-19, jumped to human from pangolins, scaly anteaters that are highly prized overseas. 

The pangolin is one of the most trafficked animals on the planet that's prized for its meat and keratin-filled scaled used in Chinese medicine as a remedy for rheumatism. 

Pangolins may not be the origin or immediate host of the virus that's killed more than 1,000 people, mainly in China. But the markets where they are trafficked are believed to be where the covid 19 virus started, which is another reason to curb the exotic animal trade, said Peter Knights, the chief executive of WildAid, a group based in San Francisco. 

Pangolins are not easy to find in the wild. They hide in holes and are tracked by dogs and hunters. But in markets, they're stacked inside of filthy cages, which make them ripe for disease, Knights said. 

"These are really dangerous time bombs all around the world," Knights said about the markets . "It's also causing conservation problems. It's also very inhumane. So, it's time we just close them down for good."