Can animals be afflicted by Covid-19? Scientists at the Case Western Reserve University are concerned that whether just one Lowland Gorilla in Uganda were to be Covid-19 positive, an event as catastrophic as an extinction of the species is imaginable. They’re also worried approximately the Narwhal, the whale with a long tusk. To assess susceptibility, they’re undertaking rigorous studies.
They’ve reason to be worried. In September, research led by Joana Damas of the University of California, Davis, and a team of several others, suggested that it is imaginable. This used to be published in the Procceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US. Summarising their own paper, “all old-world primates and great apes” were very highly susceptible. Next on their list were 28 species “classified as having a high propensity.” These included some whales and dolphins, rodents, deer, lemurs, and even the Angola colobus, a kind of monkey. Because of this the focal point on two species.
It is now upto individual countries to further isolate species at risk, even supposing the data is insufficient to decide their susceptibility. At this point, this could include reducing wildlife tourism, minimize interplay with humans and leave the forest undisturbed. India will have to be no exception. We enjoy such rich biodiversity, we will have to be on top gear. Even though we have just preliminary data, let’s memorize from the human pandemic that prevention is the only way forward.
(The author is the founder and Director of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)