Threatened biodiversity a recipe for the outbreak of pandemics in Africa

Nancy Githaiga

By Checky Abuje

Biodiversity holds the key for a healthy planet but with the current trends of environmental destruction, the planet has been left at the risk of every attack including the pandemics (Covid-19) that have left scientists, governments and other non-state actors scratching their heads for a solution.

In a report released by “Living Planet Index 2020” (LPI), the global biodiversity is at a great danger with a population size of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and birds declining at a global average of 68% since 1970.

According to Dr Jeff Worden of World Wide Fund (WWF) for nature, human activities have contributed immensely to the menace of biodiversity challenges across the board, threatening not only wildlife population but also putting human health at crossroads and this calls for change in approach in intertwining agricultural and conservation engagements.

Addressing a global conference of Science Journalists and Scientists across Africa and beyond, Dr. Worden said agricultural activities are to blame for this decline and challenges of biodiversity which include habitat loss, degradation and deforestation. others are change in land and sea use, over-exploitation of species among others.

As vision 2030 draws close, the world still has a slim window to champion and advocate for a concerted effort to ensure nature is given priority for a healthy planet and healthy people.

Nancy Githaiga, head of research, policy and innovation, WWF, however, said countries have to make use of this window to ensure more conservation efforts are heaped on environmental matters, more sustainable consumption and more sustainable production in the agricultural sector is enhanced to be able to avert the trend, adding that beyond 2030 if the status quo remains, then there will be a global disaster.

However, with the emergence of Pandemic like COVID-19, there is need for African countries which account for 65% decline on biodiversity more so wildlife, to create meaningful synergies and strong political will in tackling the challenges of environmental ills that are threatening the fragile global health.

The media plays a critical role in setting the agenda, and in concurrence, the panellists noted that its a time the media in collaboration with scientist take a pivotal position in articulating matters of the environment by educating the mass the impacts of destroying biodiversity.

The inverted pyramid of conservation versus development is a critical bother to both scientists and environmentalists.

Many countries in Africa have chosen to give development priority instead of conservation then development, and this inverted pyramid seems to impact negatively on the third world countries. DR. Worden disclosed that climate change impacts are as a result of the inverted pyramid.