The article also stated that the virus specifically threatens conservation efforts focused on ape and monkey populations in Africa, including those in Guinea, one of the countries experiencing an Ebola outbreak and where the U.S.-run Chimpanzee Conservation Center is located.
“The larger conservation connection, however, is perhaps less obvious: Ebola appears to be a direct consequence of deforestation and human disturbance,” the article stated.
“Outbreaks are linked to long dry seasons (a consequence of deforestation and climate change), during which there is scarcity of food in the forest and all the animals, including fruit bats, feed on the same remaining fruit trees, usually fig trees,” it added.
“Human development, including logging and mining, road construction and agriculture, is increasingly cutting back on forest habitat and bringing animals and humans in closer contact, which can facilitate disease transfer,” the article stated.
“Some even speculate that the illegal trade in apes may be the actual culprit behind the current Ebola outbreak,” it stated.
The article also referred to apes and monkeys as “some of our oldest living relatives” and said protecting animals being hunted for food is a “major conservation concern.”
The article has a link to a blog written by Estelle Raballand, director of the Chimpanzee Center, that said while the Ebola virus may be protecting some monkeys and apes that were hunted for food before the latest outbreak, the virus is now threatening fish in the Niger River, and some people are killing monkeys and apes, because they are seen as having Ebola.
“While Ebola may protect some animal species from being hunted for bushmeat, illegal fishing is becoming in some areas a larger and more serious conservation issue. In some areas primates are also being targeted because they are perceived as carriers of Ebola,” Raballand wrote.
“As the director of the CCC, I hope that more education regarding Ebola both in Guinea and abroad will help to put an end to some of the false information that is leading to panic and unfounded fear in Europe and the United States, and to the targeting of primates in some regions of Africa.”