While the world’s attention is focused on controlling COVID-19, evidence points at the biodiversity crisis as a leading factor in its emergence. At first glance, the two issues might seem unrelated, but disease outbreaks and degraded ecosystems are deeply connected.
The idea that the humble chicken could become a savior of wildlife will seem improbable to many environmentalists. But as the human population grows at a rate that rapidly outpaces the ability of natural habitats to feed it, a better backyard chicken could be a real hope for people and wildlife alike.
A group of scientists led by Dr Joseph Ogutu say Kenya risks losing 18 animal and bird species due to negligence. They include warthogs, lesser kudu, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, oryx, topi, hartebeest, impala, Grévy’s zebra, waterbuck, wildebeest, giraffe, gerenuk, Grant’s gazelle, buffalo, elephant, ostrich and Burchell’s zebra.
After the recent epidemic, Ebola disappeared. But this relief is only temporary: the virus is hiding somewhere—maybe in forest animals, maybe closer to home. Leigh Cowart joins the hunt. This article was first published by Wellcome on Mosaic and is reproduced here under a Creative Commons licence.
The Athi-Kaputiei ecosystem covers about 2,200 square kilometres of Kenya’s Kajiado County, south of Nairobi. It is also home to Nairobi National Park—the world’s only game reserve within a major city. The ecosystem has experienced some dramatic changes since the late 19th century. The accounts of early writers paint a picture of a spectacular ecosystem teeming with diverse resident and migratory wildlife. Records describe abundant wildebeest that migrated seasonally with other wildlife species, livestock and pastoralists. In a recently published study my colleagues and I examined the impact of land fragmentation in the Athi-Kaputiei ecosystem between 1977 and 2014. Our study shows that urbanisation and development has put the ecosystem in distress. It has fragmented the landscape which has reduced the ability of animals to migrate as they used to. The result is that their numbers have plummeted.
There have been disturbing declines in wildlife populations in Kenya in the past three decades, a study released this week revealed.
Morris Agaba’s newest passion is the molecular genetics of the giraffe, specifically the genes responsible for the animal’s impossibly long neck and legs—and the highly adaptive cardiovascular system this animal has evolved to manage its formidable biological obstacles.