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It might have started with a hunter in a cave China’s mountainous Yunnan province catching horseshoe bats that he then sold vendors in a nearby wildlife market where the bats might have been stored in cages along with “peacocks, bullfrogs, rat snakes, soft-shell turtles, mouse-deer, ferret badgers and foxes, all being sold for their meat, fur or their supposed medicinal properties.” As Ferris Jabr reports in frightening detail in The New York Times Magazine, bats are “planets unto themselves, teeming with invisible ecosystems of fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Many of the viruses multiplying within the bats had circulated among their hosts for thousands of years, if not longer, using bat cells to replicate but rarely causing severe illness.” But the hunter, by snatching the bats from their cave and selling them as food, gave the viruses inside the bats a whole new world to inhabit in humans. Jabr explains, “[e]ventually, through pathways of contagion linked to the trade and consumption of wildlife, the virus journeyed from villages in rural China to the city of Wuhan” and from there to Bejing, and then it boards a 747 and heads to other continents via travelers who silently spread it all over the world.
Why This Matters: While zoonotic diseases cannot be entirely prevented, scientists agree that we can significantly reduce the risk of their spreading from animals into human populations. But to do so, we need to deal with “intractable problems that conservationists have been grappling with for decades: deforestation, loss of biodiversity, depletion of natural resources.” Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia regional director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare thinks this time may be different than previous pandemics like SARS. She told Jabr, “I am pretty sure of it, because of the severity and the outcry. I feel a societal change is happening.”
To Go Deeper: Read or listen to the entire article by clicking here. It is worth your time.
Do you have a good eye? Are you surprisingly good at Where’s Waldo and like Walruses? If so, we have great opportunity for you! The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is seeking volunteers to help count Atlantic walruses…from space. Sea ice is retreating fast as global temperatures rise, forcing walruses to crowd on smaller floes […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer At a UN conference in Kunming, China, President Xi Jinping set aside $230 million to form a fund that preserves biodiversity in developing countries. This announcement was made at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity talks (COP15) which are dedicated to preserving delicate ecosystems and preventing plants and animals […]
The people have spoken! The portly patriarch of paunch persevered to pulverize the Baron of Beardonkadonk in the final match of #FatBearWeek 2021. 480 Otis can now boast a bevy of bests w/ this fourth 1st place finish. As we celebrate, like a true champ 480 is still chowing down. pic.twitter.com/rLvm7pvGJW — Katmai National Park […]
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