Protect Nature, Protect Life.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.”

Syliva Plath

More than six months have been passed since the reportage of the first case (November 11, 2019) of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 in China. The first person to have COVID-19 disease was probably a 55-year-old individual from Hubei province in China. About 294,190 people have died to date by COVID-19, and 25,17,971 are still suffering across the globe. Thousands are daily coming into the clutches of COVID-19. Although scientists across the world are toiling hard to find a vaccine, they are still far from finding an accurate solution. The economy of most of the countries is in doldrums, with millions on the verge of poverty.

Zoonotic Disease

SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease, meaning it has been passed from the animals to human beings. According to scientists, the number of emerging infectious disease outbreaks has more than tripled every decade since the 1980s. Approximately 70 percent of these emerging diseases in humans are of zoonotic origin, and there are 1.7 million undiscovered viruses likely to exist in wildlife. COVID-19 virus belongs to the family of viruses responsible for deadly diseases such as SARS and MERS. Diseases such as Ebola, HIV, swine, and avian flu are also zoonotic diseases. The reason for COVID-19, MERS, and SARS is the consumption of wildlife carrying the viruses.

According to WHO, Covid-19 is likely originated in a horseshoe bat, and bats are the carrier of the virus. Possibly, the virus was transmitted to humans from another intermediate host, either a domestic or a wild animal. Bats have a superb immune system that allows them to be a carrier of dangerous pathogens that do not impact them but can cause a devastating impact on humans. Bats are carrying these dangerous viruses for several years but did not harm human beings until we came into direct contact with them. 

Illegal Trade of Wildlife

Many Southeast Asian countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand, and African Nations like Gabon have a large number of wet markets that sell exotic wildlife for delicacy. Global wildlife trade is worth billions of dollars, due to the huge demand for wild animals’ meat and parts for medicinal use. The endangered pangolins, one of the suspected carrier of COVID-19, are the most illegally traded animal in the world, due to the demand of its scales and meat. It is illegal to sell and purchase pangolins, but one can easily find pangolin in the wet markets of China, Vietnam, Gabon, etc.

Credits : African Wildlife Foundation

The illegal trade of exotic animals for raising them as a pet is also a very profitable business. Many endangered animals are being illegally hunted and traded for their parts and meat such as Rhinos for Horns, Elephants for Tusks, Tigers for skin, and Hornbills for their beaks. Regular destruction of wildlife for short term benefits without considering its long term affect, are the reason for disease like COVID-19. Wild animals maintain important ecological balance, rampant destruction of wild animals and their habitat cause ecological imbalance. 

Destruction of Habitat.

Large scale deforestation for agriculture, housing, and industrial expansion have brought the wild animals close to our towns and villages. Deforestation has decreased the habitation of wild animals. Small insects due to deforestation migrated to the human establishment with fruit-bearing trees and plants, which further attracted bats and other wild animals near humans. Encroaching the habitat of wild animals brought us closer to the viruses living in the different hosts. These viruses jumped on to human to find new hosts as soon as their hosts started decreasing in numbers due to human destruction of wild habitat. 

Economic Benefits of conserving Wildlife.

Excessive poaching and killing (legally or illegally) of animals for their meat, medicinal value, skin, or other purposes brought many animals on the brink of extinction. If we allow them to extinct, then we would never be able to get the animal products that could be used in manufacturing life-saving medicines. The conservation would lead to an increase in the population of these animals, which will make trading of animals legally rather than illegally. 

Wildlife conservation is also related to forest conservation, which is important for ecological balance and diversity. Wildlife tourism contributes billions of dollars in the world economy and it is growing at a very fast pace. Wildlife tourism contributes $32 billion annually to the US economy, and safaris in Kenya generate close to $1 billion in annual revenue. Extinction of these animals and their habitat means the loss of revenues for the tourism industry. 

COVID-19 came to humans from animals due to excessive exploitation of wildlife. Consuming wildlife is not safe until the product is cleared by the authorities for consumption. Meat and other products from farm-raised animals are also not safe until it is certified by the authorities because the farms lack the necessary hygienic condition. Strict regulation on wildlife trade is a must to avoid any crisis like this in the future.

Most importantly, we should protect nature because enjoying the sight of beautiful animals and insects in their natural habitat, Mountains, Rivers, Forest, Flowers, and breathing fresh air is worth more than trillions of dollars. We should not forget that we are also a part of nature and its destruction means, destruction of mankind. Our today’s steps for nature’s conservation would decide whether our future generation would be able to see trees, animals, mountains, rivers, or not. Moreover, it would decide whether our future generation would be able to breathe or not.

How to save Human life and Wildlife.

COVID-19 has reminded the world bodies about their responsibility towards nature’s conservation. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) like conventions and other international environment laws would not be useful until implemented strictly. CITES is binding on all signing countries including the US and China. It covers the trading of international wildlife and the trading of wildlife in a country comes under the purview of a particular country’s law. It is a fact that countries have not taken nature’s conservation seriously. The overexploitation of nature (Forest, Wildlife, insects, river, oceans, soil, etc.) is rampant on the name of development. Investment in sustainable technology and the use of technology for nature’s conservation is the demand of the time. Private investors must be encouraged to invest in nature’s conservation by giving them some incentives. The provision of strict penalties may be implemented on the businesses that are violating green laws. It is worth remembering that we depends upon nature and it depends upon us.

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