Countering the next pandemic with species protection

Somewhere in the Far East, a bat, a pangolin and a human meet. A trivial piece of news that normally would have interested no one here in Europe. Had life as we know it not come to a halt shortly thereafter. The coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) probably took exactly this path to jump over to us humans.

The risk of zoonotic diseases

Coronavirus is a zoonosis, i.e. a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. In terms of evolutionary history, we humans are also descended from the animal kingdom. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are disease agents that can infect us in the same way. While the coronavirus leads to severe courses of disease in us humans, there are also many pathogens that are transmitted from humans to domestic and wild animals and can have severe effects there. Wildlife in the jungle, in addition to habitat loss, are particularly at risk from human civilization diseases. So while we are busy breaking the second wave and discussing vaccination, the most pressing question has not even been answered: How can we prevent the outbreak of such a pandemic from happening again?

Wild animals practice social distancing - if you let them

After all, it was not the shy wild animals that did not keep the minimum distance. We humans ensured that these hosts, which are highly attractive to the virus, were able to get so close in the first place. Blaming it on a wildlife market in China, however, falls short. This place is just one of countless where we find it difficult to keep our distance. All over this planet, we are encroaching on foreign habitats. Not infrequently driven by a desire for food or shopping that we have expressed in the far West. We make ourselves vulnerable. For novel disease like COVID-19, we are the bus that finally brings them from their remote spot to the center of the action. And it is in these places that conservation of species will become, more than ever, conservation of people in the future.

Stop the next crisis before it happens

In a recently published study, the World Biodiversity Council IPBES warns that pandemics could become even more frequent in the future. The impact on our lives and economies could be even more drastic. A prospect that is unlikely to please any of us. But burying our heads in the sand is no more helpful than taking to the streets with a sign and calling for an end to the pandemic. Our efforts are needed elsewhere.

Something is moving in the political arena, and we need to support it. The experts in the study call for nature conservation (understood here as habitat protection) as prevention. This includes measures for climate protection and against land degradation as well as for the preservation of biodiversity, but also the fight against the unregulated international wildlife trade. In addition, we need new ideas for sustainable land use, in which we humans do not compete with other species, but create a coexistence. Of course, this will also require major investments. But compared to the cost of a pandemic, the price of prevention is much lower.

Species protection as a journey of discovery

We at Nepada Wildlife e.V. not only support you with our international species protection projects. In the future, we would also like to show you ways in which you can make a contribution in your everyday life and in your daily consumption decisions. Together, we are embarking on the adventure of species conservation and, through our educational projects, we are even taking the youngest along on this journey. Let’s get together against the next potential pandemic!
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Portrait Natascha Kreye
Natascha Kreye

PR specialist and chief editor of Nepada Wildlife e.V.

provides inspiration for sustainability in everyday life
Our “Artenschutz to go” contributions make no claim to be completeness, but merely provide inspiration for a more conscious and sustainable use of our planet. Together we can do a lot better, but we can’t do everything perfectly right away. Would you like to share more information on this topic with us? Or do you have critical comments? Then feel free to drop your comment and start the conversation.