Protecting nature protects people by minimising zoonotic disease carrying animals

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Deforestation Africa

It pays to protect nature. It pays because the better you protect nature the less likelihood there is of people being infected by a zoonotic disease. This is because the kinds of animals that thrive in landscapes degredaded by people (human habitats effectively) are more likely to carry a zoonotic disease. In fact, the study found that the proportion of species carrying zoonotic pathogens increased by up to 70 percent compared to animals in undamaged ecosystems. Also, of course the disease carrying animals are nearer people.

Deforestation Africa

Deforestation Africa. Photo: Getty.

The research assessed almost 7,000 animal communities on 6 continents. The destruction of the natural landscape the researchers are referring to is the conversion of wild places into human settlements, farmland and I guess the commercial development of the landscape through mining etc.. This sort of destruction or degradation of the landscape benefits smaller more adaptable creatures and it is these creatures which are more likely to carry the pathogens referred to.

There is a general feeling, I hope you would agree, among experts that humankind needs to do more to protect nature and to improve the relationship between people and wild species. It isn’t just the abuse of the wild environment which enhances the chance of getting a disease like the coronavirus. It is the abuse of wild species in live animal markets such as the one in Wuhan where it is believed the coronavirus pandemic started. I would argue that it is a combination of abuses against the habitat of wild animals and the animals living in that habitat.

Comment: I don’t have details of the researchers or the research. The source of my article is The Guardian online newspaper. I’m going to end on a depressing note. There is absolutely zero prospect of any government in any part of the world reacting to this research in a positive manner by creating new legislation which protects the environment in whatever country we are referring to. The greatest abuses of the landscape take place on continents such as Africa where mining for precious metals is huge in order to supply the burgeoning manufacturing market in China.