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Opinion: How the hard lesson of Covid could help gorillas

July 31, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The sudden and deadly appearance of Covid-19 has shaken our nations around the world to their core. Governments were caught by surprise, unprepared to battle a pandemic within their own borders. But here's the thing: We in the conservation community weren't surprised at all.

For years we've been warning that human destruction of wild ecosystems is upsetting nature's delicate balance and putting wildlife -- and humans -- at risk, while leading to dangerous and potentially irreversible climate change.

The global pandemic has brought the world to its collective knees, and when we all can finally get up, we'll need to make some big changes in the way we live on this planet, our only home.

With just over 1,000 mountain gorillas remaining on the planet, they remain at risk and are a conservation dependent species.

In addition to our field operations in Rwanda, we work to conserve critically endangered Grauer's gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These gorillas' population plummeted from 16,900 individuals to just approximately 3,800, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

We need the forests of the Congo basin and other tropical areas to remain intact and healthy -- not just for wildlife, but for humanity's sake.

This makes gorillas, and the thousands of other species that live in these forests, even more important.

These forests are our best natural defense against climate change.

People-focused wildlife conservation provides one avenue to preserving wild spaces and stopping this animal-to-human disease "jump. " For example, our work in the DRC provides jobs, education and increased access to food resources, raising the standard of living for Congolese families.

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