Humanity has been hard at work in recent weeks as the threat of COVID-19 has spread across the world, with more than one million active cases and thousands of deaths. However, a team of researchers suggests that humans aren’t the only ones that are endangered by the virus, as many ape species may also be susceptible to infection.
A massive paper elaborated by a team of 25 researchers argues that primates can be affected by human respiratory diseases. It is argued that more needs to be done to limit the interaction between humans and great apes in the wild, at zoos or sanctuaries, until the COVID-19 pandemic will pass.
In some cases, a COVID-19 outbreak among apes could lead to a massive extinction. Several countries have already taken proactive measures as tourists can no longer visit areas where great wild apes can be encountered. Access to zoos and sanctuaries has also been restricted to essential employees. Field research may also be limited or suspended for the same reason.
COVID-19 also affects ape species
The experts have asserted that the population of the great apes will be affected in one way or another by the pandemic, but by taking measures in advance, many dire consequences can be avoided.
Among the list of non-human great apes, we can count gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans. The first three can be found in sub-Saharan regions of Africa, while the latter tend to be encountered in Malaysia and Indonesia.
It is thought that potential exposure relatively weak viruses can lead to lethal complications for wild primates, with the risk becoming even higher in the case of more aggressive strains like the novel coronavirus, which has already caused the death of a large number of people.
Within a report published in 2017, it is mentioned that more than 60% of the 500 primate species found across the world are close to extinction. More details can be found in a paper that was published in a scientific journal, concerning how COVID-19 affects the ape species.