Fewer species, more disease

  • IASbaba
  • July 31, 2020
  • 0
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Topic: General Studies 2 and 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Fewer species, more disease

Context: COVID-19 induced lockdowns have kept people indoors and provided opportunities for wild animals to roam around spaces they otherwise don’t venture into. 

Do you know? 

  • It is not yet fully understood which species have contributed to the transmission of COVID-19 and how.  
  • However, according to experts, there is strong evidence that it spread from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. Two hypothesis have been discussed:  
  • (a) the virus jumped from bats directly to humans;  
  • (b) from bats to pangolins and then to humans 

It is the time to rethink human actions on nature 

  • Scientists believe that emergence of epidemics have strong linkages with the loss of biodiversity, and increase in wildlife trade. 
  • In order to clear land for development and agriculture, forests & habitats have been destroyed. In the process, ecosystems are being damaged, fragmented or destroyed and as a result, world has lost several species.  
  • Trafficking in wild plants and animals has become one of the largest forms of organised crime that has become a threat to wildlife & ecosystems 
  • Species are being wiped out by organised trade networks, with new poaching techniques, for manufacturing traditional Chinese medicines. 
  • Human-induced environmental changes reduce biodiversity resulting in new conditions that host vectors and/or pathogens 
  • By disturbing the delicate balance of nature, we have created ideal conditions for the spread of viruses from animals to humans. 

Way Ahead 

  • Mainstreaming of biodiversity is needed in our post-COVID-19 development programme. 
  • Long term Vision: Nations should work towards realising the 2050 vision for biodiversity, ‘Living in Harmony with Nature’.  
  • Integrated approach: Societies must follow a ‘one health’ approach which considers the health of people, wild and domesticated animals, and the environment. 
  • Strict Monitoring: International Community need to strictly regulate high-risk wildlife markets that threaten biodiversity. 
  • Promoting Green Economy: Governments should promote green jobs and work towards achieving carbon-neutral economies. 
  • Executive actionIndia should strictly enforce  
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, which prohibits the trade of 1,800 species of wild animals/plants and their derivatives;  
  • The Biological Diversity Act of 2002;  
  • Strategies and action plans including the National Biodiversity Targets;  
  • The National Biodiversity Mission 
  • Mass biodiversity literacy: People should realise that we live in a world where biodiversity is our common heritage and natural capital. 


Ecosystem integrity will regulate diseases and restrict the transmission of pathogens from one species to another. 

Connecting the dots:

  • Sustainable Developmental Goals 
  • Zoonosis 

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