COVID-19, Humans, and Wildlife: What Do We Know? – Live | National Geographic

by birtanpublished on June 29, 2020

Pina they're just want to get it back to


hi YouTube my name is Natasha Daley and

I am a staff writer at National

Geographic and I have we have a

fantastic panel for you today on the

intersection of Kovan 19 humans and wild

life I'm gonna be joined by three

wonderful Nat Geo explorers to talk all

about kind of what we've learned now

that we're several months into this

pandemic now that I think it's become

very clear to everyone all over the

world that our relationship with nature

and our connection with nature is

intrinsically linked to our own human

health etc so we're gonna really dive

into what we have learned so far um when

it comes to humans and wildlife and how

it's all connected to what's going on

right now with Koba 19 and we're gonna

dive into how what lessons we may be

able to take going forward to prevent

something like this from ever happening

again in the future so I'm so excited

first of all I'm just gonna introduce

myself again quickly so my name is

Natasha Daley I'm a staff writer at

National Geographic where I cover animal

welfare wildlife exploitation and

wildlife conservation so over the past

several months my coverage has very much

been dominated by the pandemic initially

sort of what gave rise to it we know it

all sort of took root or at least had a

an initial sort of outbreak in a

wildlife market in China so it's

covering it from that perspective and

now I'm doing a lot of coverage on how

animals are being affected so I'm so

excited to be joined today by three

National Geographic explorers these are

all experts in their fields so excited

we have them on this call today if you

don't know what a NatGeo Explorer is

NatGeo explorers are individuals who

have received funding or recognition

from the National Geographic Society for

their work in conservation education

research storytelling and technology so

first I want to introduce dr Chris

golden chris is an assistant professor

of planetary health and new

Christian at Harvard Harvard th Chan

School of Public Health he has a

background in ecology and epidemiology

and he investigates the intersection of

trends in global environmental change

and human health for the past 20 years

he's been conducting environmental and

public health research through his own

nonprofit in Madagascar Chris if you can

give a wave so everyone sees who I'm

talking about perfect next I want to

introduce dr Rodrigo modeun he is a

senior professor of ecology at the

University of Mexico he has dedicated

his life to the study and conservation

of bats and other mammals as well

he has projects or students in 16

countries in four continents and he has

directed over 50 thesis projects and

he's joining us today from Mexico City

were so excited to have him with us to

talk about all things bats and mammals

and lastly but not least I want to

introduce dr Suzanne Marie uh Suzanne

is a purdah program director at

Smithsonian's global health program she

is also the Smithsonian conservation

biology Institute's

chief wildlife veterinary medical

officer she leads a team engaged in

worldwide efforts to address health

issues in endangered wildlife and combat

emerging infectious diseases of global

significance what we're dealing with

right now including zoonotic diseases

and she's joining us from Washington DC

where I am as well uh so as I said um

we're sort of gonna focus on what we

know and how we can use these lessons

going forward

connecting humans wildlife with this

pandemic and how everything's

essentially interconnected so I'm just

gonna dive right in I think to the first

question and I think maybe we can kind

of broaden out a bit just to maybe set

the stage a bit um and so I'm gonna kind

of come to you I think Suzanne first um

could you tell us I mean what is a

corona virus and what are the

characteristics of the köppen 19 corona

virus well first very disapproving all

of us on this pen

it's um we all did such great work right

but if we're not able to connect it with

other with know others and with National

Geographic it doesn't mean quite as much

so what a great Avenue and thank you for

the explorers program in terms of the

coronavirus very quickly there's a it's

an a it's a family of viruses it's named

for kur as a corona it's named for the

shape of the virus itself which looks

like a crown it's it's characteristics

is that it's an RNA virus and it's it's

there are many different corona viruses

there are hundreds of them in many

different species and some of the

characteristics are that they adapt

quickly and a mutate quickly and that

gives them the ability to jump species

sometimes most commonly we see it as a

common cold and in some cases much more

with a lot more clinical science such as

this Cove an outbreak right um and so

all that being said what do we know

about how the currents current a virus

originated season well we know an awful

lot and the more we know the more we

need to know right so we know that all

speed many species mean many mammalian

species cattle goats packed you know

have um humans have corona viruses and

so we know that they are out there in

the wild life we also know that for

emerging infectious diseases about

seventy-five percent of those come from

animals first and then jump into humans

so this appears to be one of them and we

also know that there are many different

species of Crona viruses and many

animals including many backs and this

virus itself appears to be very closely

genetically linked to other bats our

team found other corona viruses our

teams are found in china so that's the

still the strong a supposition of where

it came from

we're gonna hear it a little bit from

rodrigo that this does not mean that

bats are but the whole bass for bad or

dangerous quite the opposite that what

we need to think about safe living with

bats and we need to think about the

things that the drivers of emerging

diseases like land-use change what

markets cutting down forests and safe

living with why

as opposed to exterminating wildlife now

that's what you were asking but just to

hit that right in the beginning yeah

fantastic and I mean could you quickly

define what is a zoonotic disease

because I think something that's

important for everyone to understand is

that there is an intrinsic wildlife

connection to this disease and people

hear the phrase do donek disease thrown

around zoonotic virus

what Koba 19 I mean could you just sort

of explain what makes this disease a

notic all right what does mean I mean

it's it's pretty easily just its ability

to jump species and we think of species

humans so I just hit another species of

mammals and that's what you're saying

early on that we need to look at health

as a continuum a continuum of all

species we passed the time at which we

that we need to look at species

individually if we're thinking of

survival we need a holistic approach

that looks at the environment human

health and animal health so to answer

your question in terms of zone on aquire

says it's something that can jump

species easily got it to humans back

either way mm-hmm and so I'd love to

come to you now or Audrey go because I

think anyone's who anyone who sort of

been reading about or trying to find out

about how this all sort of began has

come across bats being sort of named

dropped as a possible sort of original

reservoir for the disease uh but what

what is Sir can you explain to us what

is this back connection is it true and

sort of which we know about this thank

you thank you very much Tasha for that

question let's let's try to go back to

and unfortunately there were some people

who jumped the gun and basically this is

a very closely related virus to one

virus that we find in bats so therefore

bats gave us this this thing that is an

absolute lie that is not that is not the

case at all because it has the bad virus

has about 96 percent of its genome

similar to the Czar's co2 virus that

gives us conveyed people have been

saying that they are very

interchangeable like that they they come

from this one on the other

that is as much as to say that given

that we share 99% of our genome with

chimpanzees then we come from chimpanzee

so they come from us and that is not the

case at all what is the truth is that

the chains are not we share a common

ancestor maybe five million years ago or

something like that and in this case the

BA coronavirus the pan goli

the civet coronavirus and other

coronaviruses how share a common

ancestor with the SAR scope – that gives

us covered an additional element here is

that from the unfortunately

nine-and-a-half modern and ina half

million people who have been infected in

the world every last one has been

infected by a human being this is a

human virus it's not true that about but

flies by you is going to expose you to

two source code – that is an absolute

light absolutely nothing to be afraid of

in that sense at the same time people

have been saying there's some some

really high-profile scientists have been

saying that if you live with bats in

your house are you going to a cave etc

you are exposed to this corner virus

that's absolutely not true no neuro so

in in in this situation right now we may

they're still not not a clear indication

of clear evidence about what caused the

first patient patient zero it's likely

the patient's hero came in contact with

an animal nobody knows what it is

may have been a penguin may have been a

civet may have been about nobody knows

and that is the jump that Suzanne was

referring to in terms of draw noses from

one species to another

whatever the species we also have to be

very aware of the fact that today it's

on the we're on the 26th of June there's

a lot of information being put out there

so what we learn now what we know now

what we're talking about today may

change next week

because we were learning all the time so

just a point that I want to make is that

there's really no evidence whatsoever

that that there is a bad connection

other you know in terms of about giving

us that that virus at all and in a ditch

turn of course you know that but give us

incredible ecosystem services pest

control cities presto pollination I'm

not going to go into that but just

because of that it's it's it's

counterproductive to to go and kill but

in any pleasure

so hopefully let's leave the bat alone


Thank You Rodrigo and so I mean a

crucial sort of takeaway that you would

leave any ones who's you know become

more afraid of bats or is wondering

should I stay away from bats in my own

community the answer is your answer is

no that it's possible we don't know that

a bat may have been an initial host but

bats in your own community all over the

world there's no reason to be afraid of

them or to want to exterminate them is

that correct that's exactly correct one

last thing is that the corona virus has

this s spider s protein that that

creates the crown the corona why this

this family called corona viruses that s

protein is the key to unlock the door to

enter the cell that the virus is going

to infect well guess what that bat

coronavirus has the wrong type of key

has the wrong type of s protein and

therefore cannot infect ourselves so

even if some crazy scientist out there

was taking bad virus from a hear from a

bat and trying to put it in a human

being that wouldn't even infect us got

it thank you

that's so helpful and I think really

important as you say to sort of clear

the air a little bit about some

misconceptions out there about bats um

so I mean I think you touched on this a

little bit but I think that this is a

crucial sort of component that we need

to discuss and we're trying to learn


wildlife connection to the virus um and

I mean in particular how these sort of

uh you know how you know some things

that may increase the risk of wildlife

human diseases you know what are some

things that may increase our risks to

sort of come in contact in the first

place with these sort of you know

viruses that jump in to us and may you

know you know wreak havoc on human

populations and so I think I'd like to

jump to you Chris actually no story

let's jump to Suzanne and then we'll

come back to Chris because Suzanne I

know you want to talk about this a

little bit so what are some things that

could increase the risk of wildlife

human disease transmission thanks for

asking and I think that this is a really

great opportunity for us to think about

both the hard and the soft Sciences the

hard scientists being like modeling and

a pathogen discovery in the software

sciences being anthropology and

understanding but he cultural and

behavioral norms right so there are

things that bring people and animals

into contact and and so there's a number

of different things that it's a place

where we do use modelers to look at all

the different drivers of disease to help

us figure out what are the locations the

country is most at-risk where the

community's most at-risk and then we

worked with behavioralist to actually go

and spend some time with communities and

I think that's the other big thing that

as we look at as we look at what are the

drivers and what can we do to to prevent

some of the spillover one of the really

key factors here is engaging the

communities most at risk it doesn't work

as an outsider to say oh maybe you

shouldn't do this or you shouldn't do

this it's really being part of the team

and figuring out what the issues are

having said that some of the drivers are

things like increased anything that

brings humans into contact with wildlife

whether it's cutting down forests

building new roads some of the markets

where there's wildlife present in

particular when there's a number of

different species that are present

at the same time sometimes bushmeat

hunting and the risk itself can really

vary whether it's it's a bush meat

hunter who's in the forest and exposed

directly to that animal or whether it's

the person in a wildlife restaurant who

was actually preparing the meal in the

back you know so the risks really vary

and it's one of the really real things

that we're looking forward to and it's

one that we're looking into and it's one

of the real reasons really to engage the

public health professionals as well

fantastic thank you and yeah I mean you

raised the I think the point of wildlife

markets and this is something I have

reported on a lot over the past over the

past few years that especially the past

few months and so I think you know

something that stuck in my head is what

one researcher told me when we are

talking about how wildlife markets are

almost sort of create these environments

where these viruses can rapidly spread

and he described often wildlife markets

that are selling you know live animals

and bush meat are almost cauldrons of

contagion you have many different

species together in the same place many

of these animals are sick many of these

animals are potentially disease

secreting blood other you know various

secretions and you have this environment

where it's just not necessarily a

natural circumstance for all these

species to be together in one spot

especially in close proximity to humans

so I think that that's something that's

really sort of taken on headlines over

the past few months and if anything has

sort of raised people's awareness about

these kind of wildlife markets and this

is I'm I want to come to you now Chris

because I wanted to talk this is sort of

pivoting into the kind of bullish meat

and wildlife trade and so you know how

do these zoonotic diseases and you know

viruses relate to the various kind of

dynamics of the bushmeat trade you know

for instance for example both

subsistence consumption so people buying

meats just to kind of eat and live and

then of course we have the luxury cherry

trade which is another huge component of

this so I'd love to hear your thoughts

and sort of how this all factors into

the current circumstance sure so if you

think about it really wildlife hunting

for food is typically driven by two

types of demands subsistence consumption

or the need for food or this kind of

non-essential luxury trade that's really

driven by cultural preferences and so

the entire industry of wildlife

trafficking for international

consumption or medicinal purposes falls

into that latter category and so from a

moral framework these two types of

demand are very different and I feel

totally comfortable saying that all

hunting that's driven by trade income

generation medicinal purposes really

should be banned and heavily monitored

and enforced

whereas hunting for sustenance is really

a different matter and my work in

Madagascar has shown that local people

can heavily depend on wildlife for their

nutrition and without concerted efforts

really from development and public

health initiatives we can't expect to

wean nutritionally vulnerable

populations from these wild foods

without severe consequences and it

wouldn't really be right to do so and so

I think disentangling this kind of

subsistence consumption from luxury

trade will be important as a touch point

for how we can best intervene

interesting and I mean do you think

we've seen all over the place these

calls for the global calls for the end

of the wildlife trade yeah I mean do you

think that having a blanket sort of call

for stopping a wildlife trade is I think

you just touched on this that it's sort

of if we're lumping everything under the

same basket that is problematic in many

senses I mean do you think that we have

to sort of narrow in on what aspects of

the wildlife trade we really should be

looking at absolutely so I think that

this kind of touches on on Suzanne's

point where we bring together the social

and Natural Sciences into one integrated

framework and so a lot of the work that

I do falls into more of this kind of

social science understanding of the role

and value of wildlife to local

communities and I think that by

understanding the different types of

demand and how they are needed by

different people we can classify them as

essential or non-essential and

fortunately for us the non-essential

components are really the ones that

might be producing kind of the majority

of risk right that's really interesting

thanks for making that point

I think it's important for people to

understand there's the difference

between essential and non-essential and

in fact as you said non-essential may be

driving the risk or major risk factors

in this whole and this whole thing um

before I go to Rodrigo cuz I would love

to hear your thoughts on this as well I

want to let everyone know watching um

that if you have questions for me for

any of our panelists I feel free to

write them as a comment right on this

video and we are going to after we kind

of get through a conversation we're

going to take some of your questions and

trying to answer them the best we can so

coming to you Rodrigo I'm on the same

topic you study bats of course that you

study mammals in general I mean what how

do you sort of see the rule of the

bushmeat and kind of wildlife trade in

this um I you know I played a role in

this pandemic both now and potentially

in the future I fully come sure about

this because it's really clear that in

the developing world many people

millions of people in Africa Asia Latin

America rely on on this type of bushmeat

but on the other hand there's quite a

big market for for the luxury elements

that chris has has expressed very

eloquently so they you know bush meat

consumption for the time being is here

to stay it's not going anywhere and

we're gonna have to we we all are gonna

have to make it sustainable and healthy

and for the benefit of both the human

beings that are needing that protein and

to the species that that are providing

that protein because they have to be

harvested in a sustainable way

in fact the Convention on International

trade of endangered species has a bush

made group that is trying to to make

this situation sustainable it's not an

easy task let me tell you much of it is

illegal much of it is undocumented much

of it flies around under the radar

we only know a little bits and pieces


people like Chris about these issues got

it thank you

that's a really important point to make

um and I think I mean pivoting from

Matt's looking sort of towards the

future and what we can do I know we've

all sort of touched on it a bit already

but what can be done I mean it

concretely to limit the transmission of

these diseases it's the key focusing on

the non-essential wildlife trade and

clamping down on that are there other

things and I think Chris I'd love to get

your thoughts on this because this is a

key area of research for you um what do

you think can be done to limit the

transmission of these diseases in the

future yeah I think that that's a great

question and I think it really requires

almost this philosophical transition for

us and and what better time to have that

than right now during this pandemic I

think it's really important to think of

futures with Co beneficial solutions

that link biodiversity conservation and

public health and this is the heart of

what I'm working on with Colby Bishop

and Alex Moen as a National Geographic

Fellow and planetary health with the

society environmental conservation can

help to reduce disease transmission

through something called the dilution

effect and I know that Rodrigo is

planning to discuss this in more detail

but really what this is is it expresses

this concept where greater amounts of

biodiversity have been shown to limit

disease transmission and in addition to

that there's also so many other benefits

of conserving biodiversity like

maintaining access to wild foods

traditional medicines keeping healthy

pollinator populations active and

contributing to agriculture even more

mitigation efforts to slow climate

change could reduce deforestation or

forest fires and this of course has an

environmental and climate benefit but it

also has major human health benefits

we're reducing forest fires can limit

air pollution that can affect asthma and

cardio respiratory disease and forest

fires and other forms of habitat

degradation can stress out animals these

stress events can then lead to increases

in something called viral shedding which

is when a virus replicates itself and

then can be released into the

environment all of these kind of various

examples and points lead us to believe

that efforts to create a more stable and

conserved environment

could have major human health benefits

and so really thinking from this kind of

philosophical standpoint the more that

we can do to link conservation and human

health together into one unified

framework we'll do all of us a lot of

good fantastic thank you and Rodrigo

what are your thoughts on this topic

about what you know we what can be done

to kind of limit the transmission of

these diseases do you agree with Chris

do you have some additional thoughts as

well thank you that that's a yes I have

always said that the first line of

defense against an X pandemic

if ecosystem conservation and

biodiversity conservation and the

mechanics of the underlying mechanics

are very easy and straightforward and

they are best illustrated by the

dilution effect that Chris just

mentioned imagine an ecosystem that is

completely pristine intact with the

entire complement of plants and the

animals that are supposed to be there

they are there and the pathogens are

there as well but everybody all of the

species are diluted are in low densities

so therefore the the pathogens are not

in big outbreaks or anything but then of

course along come human beings and we

disturb ecosystem will start removing

forests with removing trees start

removing certain species etc and of

course the number of species goes down

significantly and then there's a few

species called opportunistic species

that become incredibly abundant super

abundant those species that are

opportunistic and their pathogens then

have the perfect setting to be extremely

successful and create outbreaks why

these opportunistic species have been

released by the pressure of not having

predators anymore not having competitors

anymore and they have a feel three for

them and that is this perfect setting

this has been demonstrated for Lyme

disease for hantavirus for rabies for

lease money for

panda-sama and for many other pathogens

that affect human beings so the best way

to prevent the next pandemic please

please think about biodiversity

conservation ecosystem conservation

let's leave their tiny remaining pockets

that we have everyone the world land

oceans everywhere alone that's our only

hope really for the future I'm sorry I

was muted I didn't notice I thanks

Rodrigo ah Suzanne do you have any

thoughts on what we can do to limit the

spread in the future yes I do I think

there's a lot that we have learned and a

lot more that we're learning just

briefly if we wait until people start

getting ill to try and figure out to

build the laboratories and the protocols

and figure out what virus they have and

then try and go backwards and say well

what species did it come from and what

did people do to put themselves in

harm's way

we have lost months two years we've lost

hundreds of thousands of lives and

trillions of dollars so it makes very

good moral an economic sense to prevent

disease rather than to wait that's their

and and then try and contain a tree and

some of the best ways that we can

prevent spillover is by understanding

what viruses are they're first building

the capacity to respond to detect and

respond we already know that we have

identified less than 1% of the viruses

that are out there so we've got 99

percent more not all of them are going

to be bad actors but the more that we

have their their information that their

genetic information in the database the

more quickly we can respond

the other big thing I think is capacity

building within the communities at most

at danger most at risk and a lot of this

is wildlife health surveillance

so if which if we can get out there and

train folks to get the samples from

wildlife in a very safe manner and get

them to the laboratory to be analyzed to

some extent we are doing it's the best

of both worlds right we're training

wildlife a wildlife but

our Wildlife personnel globally to care

for wildlife and collect samples with

the purpose of saving human lives but at

the same time it's the same needles and

syringes personnel and laboratories if

you're trying to save the last Rhino the

last cheetah or lion or panda so it's

really a great opportunity for us to yes

pay attention to global health and pay

attention try and save human lives and

at the same time save a wild license and

support biodiversity so I do think that

this is a really critical were to nity

for all of us to pull together and it's

one of the reason we want to thank

National Geographic because this is a

really good example of a cattle off you

know three different people from

different walks of life coming together

sharing expertise

no one can do everything but everyone

can do something and for me that's the

key the more that we all work together

on a continuum and do our little piece

of the puzzle and share information the

more that we're gonna be able to save

people and animals and the right and as

you said I mean everything you just

thought underscores the takeaway that

everything is connected in this entire


um and so Suzanne a follow-up question I

have for you you know as we look towards

the future you've all outlines very

clearly what can be done to help you

know potentially prevent this from

happening again but I think you know a

question on everyone's mind is you know

our pandemics going to become more

frequent especially if we don't take

action and how is there any other way

that we haven't already talked about

that we can be more prepared I think

knowledge is power and I think we do

know that that spill overs are coming

more and more frequently the data has

shown that they're coming more

frequently and they will if we don't do

anything to stop that they will be

coming more frequently so the more that

we can work internationally and I think

that for a long while different nations

have been looking at the economy as a

global entity it's time to look at

health as a global entity and not just

veterinary medicine or Public Health or

human health but the whole combination

of that that you know that we need us so

we need to from my perspective I think

we need to look at health

and and very interdisciplinarily that's

a long word Interdisciplinary yes

perfect thank you and so now I mean I

think we've been talking a lot about as

you just said we've been using sort of

big words science-based sort of we

should talk a little about a lot of


efforts that you know scientists around

the world are going to have to do

researchers etc all absolutely critical

to understanding this and preventing it

in the future but I'd like to sort of

maybe talk a little bit especially for

many of our viewers about what people

can do just in their everyday lives um

you know the average person who may not

you know be able to contribute to

research you know on on these on the

pandemic but what can people do in their

everyday lives to help this effort to

both you know to prevent something like

this for happening in the future and

Rodrigo I'm wondering um if you have any

thoughts about that yes absolutely

Natasha thank you for that question

there's a lot that everyone can do and

as Suzanne was saying this pandemic is

an amazing learning opportunity we are

all learning of new ways of living our

lives the next time we embrace our uncle

or grandmother or whatever it's going to

be the most amazing embrace right well

let's keep learning about all of these

things including for example and you

know no offense but here in this

National Geographic panel we are

preaching to the choir

we're already reaching to people who

know something about this issue and who

are convinced about this we need to

start thinking outside the box and

expand the message so everyone out there

who is watching this panel please take

it to heart to talk to your neighbor

your office mates whomever someone who

is not in this frequency of science and

biology and biology etc please take

these messages and share them and spread

them all over the place

also it's very very important to think

of our own ways of living our lives I

myself I'm rethinking many

things that I used to do in a different

way I'm cutting back a lot on meat

consumption because you know draw Nazis

do not come only from wild animals I

mean Chris was saying something about

that effect but let's think for a second

about avian influenza even influenza has

been sprouting left and right here and

there a new virus here and there because

also so those are also viruses that

mutate fairly easily and if you look at

now if you look at a poultry farm the

way they have them packed with tiny

amounts of space for each chicken is the

perfect breeding grounds for the next

pandemic and that is driven by us it's

very easy for me to go to the

supermarket and take this little white

thing with a with our chicken breast

there oh I have my chicken and I don't

even think for a second where did that

chicken come from how was it produced

this is the moment in which we have to

start asking those questions and become

involved become involved in several ways

number one lower your amount of

consumption of chicken and beef and pork

etc number two get involved in how ask

them how is this being produced because

in the invade in the health of those

animals goes our health if they are in

good shape we are in good shape if their

rights are respected our rights will be

fine so and and and it doesn't stop

there think about the way we used water

we use water for the shower or etcetera

just time yourself in the shower

tomorrow morning and try to cut off one

minute two minutes three minutes I am

now down to four minutes in the shower

granted I do have an advantage right I

do have an advantage but

everyone in the world can start cutting

back a little bit in all of the

consumption that is causing this

pandemic we are not detached from the

fact that this happened in China we are

not detached from whatever happens in

Africa with Ebola

we are not attached we are one world

Thank You Rodrigo that's so helpful and

I think you know as you pointed out when

nature is sick when animals are sick we

can get sick and we're all just very

interconnected as you pointed out their

welfare affects our welfare and vice

versa um so what I'm gonna do now this

has been a fantastic conversation I'm

going we've gotten a lot of great

questions from viewers so I'm gonna look

at those now um and we'll see how many

we can get through over the next few

minutes so let's see um first and I'm

gonna throw this to you Suzanne uh Shaz

asks how many strains of SARS Co b2 are

there there are many different strains

of SARS that further and forth and I

think if I'm understanding the question

correctly two for this covin 19 they're

already many mutations that have

happened since the initial outbreak I

don't know the exact number but we are

but the World Health Organization

amongst other CDC are or have been

tracing all the different mutations so

I'd have to say while we know that there

are many mutations already in different

strains I don't know the exact number

that does help us as we look backwards

to figure out you know where things came

from and a lot of times looking

backwards does a you know the best

predictor of the future is looking at

arere so looking at where the viruses

came from will indeed help us looking at

the future wonderful thank you moving on

to the next and this is I'm going to

throw this to you Rodrigo because it's

touched us on what you were just talking

about the recent outbreak of Copan cope

in nineteen in poultry and meat factory

supplying large supermarkets how

concerning is this going forward and

this is you know I imagine this person

is asking from their own perspective for

their own health their family's health

if they are to buy these products well

that's exactly the point

I mean at this point in time there is no

outbreak of avian influenza in the world

but mark my words there will be one more

two more three more there's already

pandemics brewing someplace in the world

we'd have the outbreaks of avian

influenza before mostly in Asia but also

in in in North America also in Europe so

it's really time that it's safe to to

consume it of course if you cook it it

cetera but that that is just a time bomb

there if we don't get engaged if we

don't get you know to know how these

animals are being produced and not if we

don't fight for for the rights of those

animals to live a sort of a healthy life

another issue here is that if you if you

if you buy a free-range chicken try to

understand what the concept of

free-range means and of course the idea

would be a chicken that has been digging

in the dirt and eating earthworms and

things like that that is the healthiest

chicken that we can eat but it's not

very easily accessible and it's going to

be more expensive than the industrially

produced chicken so so just get engaged

in that get involved learn about it and

exert your influence your your one

individual but like Suzanne was saying

the work of one person makes the change

yeah I mean I as I've learned throughout

many stories I've reported consumers

have a tremendous amount of power to

make change oh yes so one person turning

into multiple people turning into enough

people to sort of change the market um

towards you know a certain direction um

it actually has a tremendous amount of


money talks so the next question I I'd

like to throw this to you Chris Elise

asked what does the Chinese black market

traditional track sorry primarily in

traditional medicine have to deal with

Kovan 19 right uh yeah that is a that is

a good question I think that that

actually ties in to what Rodrigo was

just talking

in terms of ways in which we can change

and shape the market and it might be

that the actual medicine that ends up

arriving in a Chinese black market might

not be the immediate risk factor or

exposure for a disease transmission

event but it is the entire structure of

demand through these markets that is

driving so much of these environmental

pressures to increasingly encroach upon

wildlife habitats and so the presence of

that demand albeit in very very distant

kind of geographical transoceanic waters

is ultimately going to kind of

facilitate these transmission events and

so I think that it is not only a matter

of trying to isolate where these events

began and started but also trying to

take accountability for what is driving

those events in the first place that

makes sense and another critical part of

this of course its policy you know China

for example back in I think it was

February and announced a total ban on

the sale and purchase of meat for

consumption live animals for for

consumption however notably exempt from

that ban was meat and live animal

products for traditional medicine for

you know goods so I think that this sort

of highlights that yes we can you know

there have been policy changes and

Momentum's on the policy front or

momentum on the policy front over the

last few months but you know when it

targets a very specific area and leaves

a whole other very lucrative segment of

the industry out that essentially allows

that to continue to flourish so I think

that that's I mean I don't know if

anyone wants to jump in do you think

sort of policy changes on a

country-by-country basis are going to be

very important going forward to control

this trade Chris do you do you think

policy is an important part of all this

I think that policy is absolutely an

important part of it as I unfortunately

don't have the expertise in terms of the

international wildlife trafficking and

trade whether legal or illegal to kind

of weigh in on that specifically but I

think that these types of policy

instruments are exactly the types of

things that we need to be targeting

but it needs to not only come from

conservationists it needs to come from

the public health sector it needs to

come from the economic sector and have

everyone join where there are these kind

of Co beneficial interventions that will

touch on all aspects of society got it

thank you

okay I wanted to jump into crystal said

– in terms of being Co beneficial we

also need to look for for opportunities

or opportunities that would also help

the communities that are at risk so that

the folks need protein if the different

different communities that are currently

lying on wildlife products for protein

just taking that away isn't necessarily

the answer without coming up with a

other say forms of protein in which to

feed families of course that's and I

think it's a we were all implying it I

always wanted to make sure that we're

saying that out loud to that policy

obviously is really critical but policy

that involves the the communities at

risk garden you just want to keep our

you know keep our families healthy

infant um next question and maybe you

can take this Suzanne Callan asked can I

know what are the early symptoms of

Kovan 19 and since we're focused on kind

of wildlife and animals here – a bit

maybe you can and your veterinarian

maybe you can talk us through human

symptoms contrasted with what you might

look for in your pets your cats or dogs

if you're at all concerned that they may

be sick

so the symptoms and humans range from an

apparent so many people have been

affected and are not even aware and the

most commonly reported things are dry

cough fever and chills and then for

those who become more ill difficulty

breathing so those are the things that

we see most often we do we have seen

there has been evidence of dogs being

able sheddings are having the virus and

also some zoo animals as well that have

been thought to have been contracted

from people however neither of these

hosts seem to be competent in term

of releasing large amounts of antigen or

to be a substantial role of infection

whereas people-to-people contact with

coughing and sneezing seems to be the

predominant way that these that kovat is

spread so yes while there's been

evidence of animals testing positive

they're not thought to be a significant

role thanks for clarifying next I think

that's probably really important for

everyone to t keep in mind that there is

there's been no evidence to dates that

animals are a significant driver in

animals of course

well tigers or lines yeah yes exactly

this is very much a disease driven by

humans would that be correct to say it's

currently a disease that's being passed

from human to human very very frequent

with the greatest frequency yeah okay

let's move on to the next question

uh let's see okay we had just touched on

this but maybe we can if we have

anything else to add I know I have

written several stories on this topic

but someone asked at least asked what

about big cats I remember reading about

Tigers that got that got cope in

nineteen so how did they get the disease

Suzanne you just mentioned for anyone

who doesn't know eight big cats I

believe five Tigers reliance at the

Bronx Zoo tested positive for koban

nineteen and Suzanne as you said it's

believed that they contracted the virus

from an asymptomatic zoo worker is that

correct right exactly and the zoos have

pretty strong policies if you're showing

symptoms are feeling ill you know not

not to come in and people adhere to that

very carefully so yes well there's a lot

of supposition going on I think that

everything points to an ASA map a

symptomatic carrier having inadvertently

transmitted to a large cat got it and

for anyone wondering how they're doing I

did talk to an expert just the other day

about them and all of the big cats are

have recovered and are doing well for

anyone who is concerned so let's see um

next question

um and I'm not sure I'm gonna ask this

question and we'll see who oh sorry

Rodrigo did you want to see something

yes can I add a few words about that

transmission from humans to other

animals beyond beyond the cats in their

Bronx Zoo we know that in the

Netherlands for example there's been

cases of minks in farms in mink farms

that are of course thankfully going out

of fashion for the you know pelts and

things that people wear but but there

were several cases of humans infecting

minks and I'm not sure about mix

infecting humans but that led to to

sacrificing the entire farm of minks

that gave us in there and and now I'm

gonna change hats I'm the co-chair of

the VAT specialist group of IOC and the

International World Conservation Union

and there we had to start looking at

what were the chances of human human

giving Tsarskoe to two bats so there's a

couple of studies one of them has

already been published in Germany with a

fruit bat colony captive fruit bat

colony in Germany they infected the path

with hundreds of times greater doses of

viruses that are needed to infect a

human being and then they looked at what

happened from nine animals that were

infected four kept the virus and from

those four to develop transient symptoms

but there was no transmission between

bats like that there's two studies

underway coordinated by the Fish and

Wildlife Service in the United States

with two different species of bats that

they're trying to see what's the

situation in the meantime the IUCN bat

specialist group has issued

recommendations that it's on our website

they're saying basically if you don't

have anything to do right now with us

please leave them alone do not handle it

if you have to please take precautions

take pee pee

different versions of PPE maybe just

gloves maybe a face shield something

like that that will lower the chances

it's very my note it's very tiny but we

don't want even one case to happen so so

we're lowering the chances they're in

the meantime we continue to make

progress and understanding how this

virus is going to behave in the future

thanks Rodrigo sonic has asked a

question for Chris specifically so we

just talked about the minks in the

Netherlands and Chris you had touched

early in our conversation on how non

essential versus essential wildlife


the minks that we're talking about the

Netherlands and now Denmark they're at

fur firms being farmed for their fur for

the fashion industry Salonika asked why

aren't the fashion industry's being

penalized this is at the backdrop of :

minks all across the Netherlands I

believe on 13 fur farms

I'm Annie and hundreds of thousands of

makes being cold and the Netherlands has

announced that the mink farming industry

will be done finished by the end of 2020

which it has been a result that's come

out of this but you know just on ACCA's

question why isn't the why isn't

industry penalized for this I mean is

this something that we should be looking

at I think you could think of any of

these different types of market drivers

in this type of accountability framework

and so I don't think that a mink farm

per se would be a driver of disease

transmission we don't know that that is

actually kind of a potential mechanism

for these diseases to transfer but at

the same time I think it goes back to

exactly what you said this did this

distinction between essential versus

non-essential use of wildlife and this

certainly falls into the category of

non-essential and so this should

absolutely be something that is banned

and enforced and we should never be

using kind of animals for fur or any

sort of thing like that but there are

limited cases where we do need wildlife

as Rodrigo mentioned where millions of

people rely on wild captures seafood and

terrestrial wildlife and so we need to

really think about ways in which we can

create intervention

that will maintain that type of

nutrition while at the same time

preventing disease transmission or other

types of adverse outcomes great Thank

You Rodrigo someone asked this and I'm

sure you will be very happy to answer

this question if how would it affect the

ecosystem if all the bats were

exterminated could you tell us briefly

what how important our bats for the

ecosystem and what would it mean for the

world if they were suddenly wiped out

well very briefly because we're running

out of time but let's just think of the

fact that just in the northern border of

Mexico the Mexican states of Sonora to

tamale keep us we estimate about twenty

to forty million bats of one species

Mexico has 140 species the world has

fourteen hundred species about we're

talking about one species we have twenty

to forty million bats of that one

species each each million bat destroys

ten tons of insects every night every


just picture ten tons of insects and

then multiply that by 20 or 240 and

that's what everyday bats destroy so

imagine of course if we lose the bats we

are gonna we're gonna have a major pest

problem in our crops we have already

demonstrated and several other studies

have demonstrated that with we exclude

bats from a field of rice or coffee or

corn or cotton or whatever the level of

damage to the to the crop grows

exponentially grows to be about thirty

to forty percent of the crop would be

lost if the bats were not there and that

is just for the for our well being in

terms of the ecosystem but the seed

dispersal they provide in all of the

tropical for first of the world it's the

absolute key for the recovery of those

forests we have demonstrated that path

dispersed between two and five seeds per

square meter per spur per night just

imagine that two and five seeds per

square meter

per night multiplying that by the amount

of forage that we have if we allow the

bats to continue with their work we will

have the four is restored in 30 or 40


so yes the the loosing bats would be

very meaningful and very negative for

all of the ecosystems on earth great

Thank You Rodrigo uh let's see maybe we

have time for one more question and I'm

gonna throw this out to whoever would

like to answer it um this is especially

relevant for all our viewers living in

cities someone asked can urban wildlife

like rats or pigeons be carriers for the

virus and is this something that city

livers should be concerned about

avoiding these animals Suzanne maybe

your on that I'll take the first

stab at that and then I'll pass on to my

esteemed colleagues I would say that we

have discovered through modeling and

genetic analysis and with the help of

virologist that there are species that

are most likely to carry illnesses that

would chance that can be transferred

over to humans of those being rodents so

in general those rodents are something

that we should be watching out for in

terms of this particular kovat outbreak

we have not seen them be part of the of

the cycle of transmission certainly not

in a meaningful way so I think in

general yes there's a good idea to avoid

avoiding wild rodents and and there's

many examples rodrigo's machine

hantavirus earlier and things like

raccoons they carrying things also like

you know like like rabies but they also

but they like most mammals are able to

but they also don't don't appear to be

involved in this particular outbreak got

it thank you

so we're running up on the hour and so I

think this has been a really fantastic

conversation I'm so thrilled that all

three of you were able to join us today

and but I think we've talked about so

many different interesting elements of

this I'd love to leave our viewers with

each of you sort of talking about what

do you what to you is a big takeaway

from this entire thing what would you

like to leave viewers

thinking about as we sort of wrap this

up and maybe I'll start with you Suzanne

I would say I think the big message for

me is that we're all connected we're

connected by a lot of things that we

want to be connected by culture and and

and economy and things that were and

will also connected by some things that

we don't want to be connected by and

like virus isn't some kind of some piece

illnesses and the more that we can

embrace the positive and I'll find a way

of working across countries in a

multidisciplinary approach I think

there's there's a lot that we can do and

if there's a silver lining here it's

that we are I think we really are all

looking reaching out across countries

across borders across disciplines and

then we are given this great platform

through National Geographic to share our

thoughts so that's my thought we're all

connected and there's and everybody has

a role to play great thank you so much

Chris how about you sure I guess I have

two thoughts one is technical and the

other is kind of more philosophical so

from a technical standpoint I think that

the need for these nationally systematic

and coherent databases are critical to

us fighting against these types of

viruses or any sort of connections

between environment and humans and so

without these types of information

platforms being available there will be

enormous inaction in us making any

progress against this and this is not

only within our own country but also in

the way that all of this type of disease

and information could connect between

countries I think it from a more

philosophical standpoint the most vital

takeaway for me is that you can't

separate this desire for a healthy human

population and a need for a healthy

planet and so these two elements are

really inextricably tied together and

all efforts to conserve biodiversity can

also be seen as key public health

interventions and so really just kind of

letting that sit in your head as that

these two things are really deeply

connected with each other

wonderful thank you and Rodrigo how

about you I have basically two take-home

messages to lessons that I myself have

learned in the process of this

quarantine that we're all

Merson number one is that we all have

something to do we we are drivers of

change ourselves you choose what are you

going to do you're going to write to

your senator you're going to engage in

the local conservation efforts you're

going to change it's the way you do

whatever the other one is that from now

on and this is a kind of a heavy task

but it's something that we have to come

to grass with from now on the only thing

that is not acceptable is to continue

living your life without any changes in

it everybody can make changes in your

life from reducing the amount of water

that you use and you're done on your

shower to changing the way you eat to

engaging in the way that while if it's

managed in your country or or but me

reaches the local supermarket etc the

only thing that we need to be aware of

is that we need to start changing our

life now wonderful thank you and I guess

my final thought would be just to thank

you all for being here and to our

viewers who have been you know following

our animals coverage over the past few

months and you know past few years I

think I've seen an increased sort of

engagement between you know our readers

connecting our animals coverage with our

culture coverage with our science

coverage I think this pandemic has

really Illustrated that everything is

connected I know at the beginning of the

quarantine I wondered okay well you know

what are the animals stories that are

really gonna emerge from this and at the

time I couldn't predict them but I think

it's been you know what has come out has

been I think really illuminating I've

been really surprised how deeply people

care about wildlife and about nature and

how I think we lean people are to kind

of make that connection and tell their

friends and family about that connection

and sort of just just commit to making

the world a better place for animals

humans and nature all together so thank

you for everyone to everyone who is

continuing to read our work support our


we really appreciate it and we're gonna

keep telling these stories and keep

sharing ways that we can sort of all

continue to learn about about what's

going on and take these lessons forwards

so I think that that was kind of the

goal of our panel today what if we

learned and what can we take forward and

all three of you have put forth some

fantastic food for thought as we all

sort of head into the weekends so I'd

like to thank Suzanne Chris Rodrigo

really appreciate being here today thank

you everyone for watching and really

hope everyone got something great out of

this session thank you for having those

yeah thanks so much hi everyone Maya

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