The Jakarta Post
The government will soon suspend live animal imports from China, including snakes and turtles, amid concerns about the deadly coronavirus spreading to Indonesia.
Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said on Wednesday that the ministry was in the process of preparing the regulation to suspend the live animal trade between Indonesia and China, as the virus was believed to have originated among wild animals.
“We are preparing the ministerial regulation in accordance with the decision made in the meeting,” he said, referring to a meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at the State Palace.
Agus went on to say that the ministry would create a list of the live animals that would be barred from being imported in the regulation, among which he said were reptiles such as "snakes and turtles".
Live reptiles made up the majority of 19.4 tons of live animal imports from China to Indonesia last year, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS).
BPS data show that Indonesia imported 18.2 tons of live reptiles -- including snakes and turtles -- worth nearly US$216,000, dominating the total of live animal imports valued at $314,295 from China in 2019.
Other than importing live reptiles, Indonesia also imported 1.2 tons of live mammals worth $98,327 last year.
Agus said the government would follow the temporary import ban with monthly evaluations. "If the conditions return to normal, we will [allow imports]," he said.
Experts have previously warned Indonesia to apply stronger measures against the cross-border wildlife trade especially as scientists believe that the novel coronavirus may have originated in wild animals such as bats and snakes.
Chinese authorities have linked a market selling wild animals in the city of Wuhan to the coronavirus, which as of Thursday had killed 563 people and infected more than 28,000 people on the mainland and spread to more than 20 countries, AFP reported.
In light of the outbreak, Tomohon administration in North Sulawesi has also instructed sellers at "extreme" animal markets in the region to stop selling bats and snakes famously known as local delicacies in the region.
“We’ve met with the sellers to tell them about the dangers of the coronavirus and instructed them to stop selling bats and snakes,” Tomohon Health Agency head Isye Liuw said on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.
She added that the sellers were also instructed to stop selling other wild animals such as wild boars, cats, dogs and mice in the market, but still permitted the sales of pigs. (ris)