Monkey Forest Tales: What is the relation between habitat loss and our pandemic current situation?

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Having in mind what we are living around the world, a pandemic caused by a new virus, I thought I will talk a bit about this topic from a biologist/ conservationist perspective. I’m not going to talk about the virus itself, I don’t work with viruses, I leave that to the experts. But I do work in areas where habitat loss occurs and where wild animals enter in more close contact with humans and their domestic animal populations. These are the areas where some of those new viruses emerge and create this kind of chaos. So, today’s post is bout what is the relationship between habitat loss and our pandemic current situation.

Habitat loss or deforestation is the process in which a habitat such a swamp, forest, mangroves, grassland, or any natural habitat is reduced in terms of the amount of area. When habitat loss occurs, there is a chain of biological processes that started in a sequence. The initial loss of habitat produces a reduced availability of resources for wild animals that live in those habitats. As well as populations been more crowded because of the reduction in area. This means there are more animals than resources available in a reduced space. So, they have to go out of their natural habitats to the human-modified habitat to find resources for their lives.

All wild animals, as well as our domestic animals and ourselves, have microbes inside them. Those microbes are adapted to them and usually didn’t represent a big problem for them, other animals or us. But when wild animals from areas where habitat loss occurs get crowded and enter in contact with our domestic animals and us, those microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms) start moving between us.

That microbe’s movement between wild animals, domestic animals and us, is what makes those microbes potentially more dangerous to produce a pandemic episode like the one we all are facing today.

So, even if it looks a bit disconnected from all our activities, the truth is that every time we open wild and remote areas to new roads, crop fields, and human settlements, these areas become a potential focus of new emerging diseases that can potentially affect our daily lives, as this pandemic is doing now.

Although at the moment the only solution we had is to keep our distance from each other’s and quarantine ourselves to protect everyone else from this virus. Next time you have the opportunity to support any policy or movement that protects the natural habitat from being destroyed, please think a bit of what we are living now and try to stop it.

We are all connected on this only planet we all share, as this pandemic is showing us, and we all have the responsibility to try to stop this pandemic to occurs in our future if we all understand that we are all together on this.

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