For a campaigner against deforestation, almost dying of COVID-19 was ironic

Mighty Earth’s Etelle Higonnet has worked for years to reform the palm oil, rubber, soy, and cocoa industries, which are heavily involved in tropical deforestation. Pandemics like COVID-19 are linked with deforestation and the wildlife trade, and she’s married to a public health expert, so it was ironic that she nearly lost her life to the disease last month.

Higonnet argues that ending the wildlife trafficking which seems to have caused the pandemic is of no use if animals’ forest homes continue to be bulldozed, sending them into contact with people. She reflected on her experience with COVID-19 and the relation to her work in a commentary for Mongabay:

The more we encroach into forests, the likelier it is we humans will come into contact with heretofore undisturbed animals, whose pathogens will have the exciting opportunity to penetrate new victims – us. And when we raze forests, their animal inhabitants stumble into our human strongholds. I’ve witnessed it firsthand in my work: disoriented, lost, homeless creatures seeking a last desperate toehold even in areas where humans abound.

Read the full piece in Mongabay. This piece is also available in Bahasa, Spanish, and Chinese.