National parks in Africa shutter over COVID-19 threat to great apes

National parks in Africa shutter over COVID-19 threat to great apes

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo shut its doors to tourists this week in an attempt to protect its great apes from possibly being infected by the novel coronavirus. The park, which hosts one of the last remaining populations of the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), will remain closed until June 1. The specter of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, looms large over Africa, with the number of confirmed infections among people crossing 2,000 as of March 25. Humans and great apes — gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans — share more than 95% of the same DNA, and are susceptible to many of the same infectious diseases. And while no COVID-19 infections have been recorded among great apes, experts warn the risk is very real. “It is not yet known if great apes are susceptible to SARS CoV-2,” the IUCN said in a recent statement referring to the coronavirus by its formal name. “However, there is abundant scientific evidence that great apes are susceptible to infection with human respiratory pathogens. At this point, it is safest to assume that great apes are susceptible to SARS CoV-2 infection.” The IUCN has called for precautions on the part of site managers, researchers and tourism operators to ensure that the threatened populations of these species are not wiped out by an epidemic that has already claimed more than 22,000 human lives as of March 26. “Luckily we don’t have any reports on the virus in chimps, gorilla…This article was originally published on Mongabay

Read the full article on Mongabay

Tags:

Share This Post

Post Comment