COVID-19 and the Ecosystem’s Destruction’
The street is completely deserted. The only sounds come from some birds chirping in a tree nearby. The area, once teeming with people, is now empty. In the distance, a figure appears. It starts walking towards a piece of bread on the sidewalk (covid-19).
What could a wild deer possibly be doing in a place like this?
Other figures appear slowly, walking as if they owned the square.
This sight has become a commonplace during the COVID-19 lockdown. In fact, there seem to be benefits when it comes to COVID-19 and the ecosystem. There have also been sightings of wild boar in Spain. The Welsh are excited to witness mountain goats strolling in Llandudno. The monkeys in Thailand fight over food out in the open.
What is happening?
Animals have surprisingly become opportunists during this lock-down. While human beings are forced to stay at home, monkeys, pigs and deer are availing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk on the streets. Maybe even wander onto some public areas.
In some reports, it is stated that humans encroaching on natural habitats means a loss in biodiversity and the eventual degradation of the ecosystem. It is believed that the virus originated from an animal (such as a bat or a pangolin). But there is also evidence that humans have played a significant role in its development.
Essentially, human beings have disrupted the ecosystem. Which is why COVID-19 and the ecosystem are just not getting along.
What do other findings suggest?
Other reports are of the view that the fundamental cause is industrial animal agriculture. As food production plants start impinging on wild habitats, pathogens find ways to infect animals. And, eventually, human beings. Examples include the swine flu and bird flu. To curb this, it has been advised to cut back on our meat consumption. Such zoonotic threats are becoming increasingly difficult to control.
COVID-19 and the ecosystem may have a silver lining: the focus on animal trade. There is a call for action against such trade by environmental activists. Governments are being urged to close down animal trafficking and poaching wild animals.
However, due to the lock down, animals in zoos and pet stores are facing a crisis. In Germany, some zoos are facing a cut in revenues because of the fall in visitors. These zoos are planning to slaughter some animals to save up on the costs of catering to them. And if you believe that COVID-19 does not affect animals: a tiger in a New York zoo recently got diagnosed with the virus. Nonetheless, other zoos around the globe are seen taking less drastic actions. The latter are filing for help by the federal government for any aid. The more creative zoos are raising much-needed revenue through selling T-shirts with animal designs on them.
What is the solution?
Three solutions are recommended during these tough times.
- Taxes should be implemented on animal products, such as meat or eggs. This will reduce the consumption of such products. Consumers may eventually switch to plant-based diets in the long-run.
- Support must be given to domestic plant farming that is also sustainable. There should be less strains on animals and more focus on plants and crops.
- The government can start to direct its investment to plant-based meat products. This would result in greater research on the subject and thus a shift towards protein from plants.