Peru tries to save bats blamed for coronavirus

Source:AFP Published: 2020/3/26 21:13:39

Authorities called on Wednesday for worried Peruvians to stop killing bats after rescuing 200 that were going to be burnt by peasants believing them to be spreading the coronavirus.

A rare virus spread by fruit bats, which can cause flu-like symptoms and brain damage, has killed 10 people in southern India Photo: VCG

"We must not distort the situation due to the pandemic. Bats are not our enemies," the National Service of Wild Forests and Fauna (SERFOR) said in a statement on Wednesday.

SERFOR called for calm after peasants in Culden, in the northern Cajamarca region, attacked bats with fire.

"The attackers attacked the mammals because they thought they were spreading the coronavirus," said the agency.

The bats were rescued by SERFOR staff and released in a cave far away from Culden.

SERFOR said bats can also be beneficial to humans as "70 percent of the species in the world feed off insects, many of which are harmful to agriculture and our health, like mosquitos that spread dengue and other diseases."

Jessica Galvez-Durand, who is in charge of wild fauna at SERFOR, said people should avoid eating wild animals and that using their flesh in medicines was also risky.

Many experts believe a bat infecting a pangolin - a small, scaly endangered species - that was then eaten by people was the source of the novel coronavirus' transmission to humans.

Scientists believe the virus originated in bats but transferred to humans through another animal, perhaps pangolins whose meat is often used in health remedies.

There have been more than 480 cases and nine deaths from COVID-19 in Peru.


blog comments powered by Disqus