We are entering an era of pandemics – it will end only when we protect the rainforest

Exposing the Big Game

Peter Daszak

Reducing deforestation and the exploitation of wildlife are the first steps in breaking the chain of disease emergence

Tue 28 Jul 2020 01.00 EDTLast modified on Wed 29 Jul 2020 14.10 EDT


Transportation of timber logs, Amazon rainforest Brazil
Logging in the Brazilian rainforest. ‘Human activity has created a continuous cycle of viral spillover and spread.’ Photograph: Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images

In late 2013, in the village of Meliandou in rural Guinea, a group of children playing near a hollow tree disturbed a small colony of bats hiding inside. Scientists think that Emile Ouamouno, who later became the first tragic “index” case in the west AfricanEbola outbreak, was likely exposed to bat faeces whileplaying near the tree.

Every pandemic starts like this. An innocuous human activity, such as eating wildlife, can spark an outbreak that leads to a pandemic. In the 1920s, when

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