I think about that bat a lot. You know the bat I mean. I think about how it was likely captured from a forest in China— or perhaps somewhere further away, maybe Vietnam, Cambodia, or Indonesia? Perhaps its death came mercifully swiftly. Or maybe it was stuffed in a cage and transported live via plane, motorbike or truck to a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. If so, its last days were certainly spent in terror and confusion; maybe it was already sick and dying. In its small mammalian brain, this little flying rodent was suffering. And somewhere along the way, likely in the market itself, this bat shed something that would change the world: a novel coronavirus. “We’ve essentially stuck our fingers into a hornets’ nest. Hornets don’t bother people unless we bother them. It’s the same situation here,” says Steven Galster, the founder of conservation group Freeland. Galster, like many scientists, argues that the COVID-19 pandemic came about because of the combination of a booming commercial wildlife trade and the destruction of nature. Both these trends have put people in ever closer contact with wild species that host viruses like the one that causes COVID-19. “We had all been warning this could happen,” Galster adds. Indeed, over my decade-plus as an environmental journalist, I’d heard innumerable scientists raise this warning time and time again. And often gone completely unheeded. ‘Sense of shared purpose’ COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, meaning it originated with an animal. While much remains to be learned about…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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