Bats, rats and snakes are still being sold at an Indonesian market known for its wildlife offerings, despite a government request to take them off the menu over fears of a link to the deadly coronavirus.
Vendors at the Tomohon Extreme Meat market on Sulawesi island say business is booming and curious tourists keep arriving to check out exotic fare that enrages animal rights activists.
But scientists are debating how the new virus, which has killed more than 1,100 people in China and spread to dozens of countries around the world, was transmitted to humans.
A wildlife market in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, is thought to be ground zero and there is suspicion it could have originated in bats.
The possible link wasn’t on many radar screens at the Indonesian market, however.
Its grubby stalls feature a dizzying array of animals including giant snakes, rats impaled on sticks and charred dogs with their hair seared off by blowtorches — a gory scene described by some critics as “like walking through hell”.
Bat seller Stenly Timbuleng says he’s still moving his fare for as much as 60,000 rupiah ($4.40) a kilogram to buyers in the area, where bats are a specialty in local cuisine.