As the effects of the global pandemic are felt keenly by everyone in their own homes and communities, it may seem as though the movements, population dynamics, and pathogen loads of animals in faraway tropical forests are a trivial matter. In reality, however, it is at times like these that the importance of this type of research becomes most salient.
The Importance of Wildlife Disease Screening
For more than a decade, FPI has been monitoring the disease status (including viruses) carried by our long-term study populations. The scientific community has strong reason to believe that COVID-19 was created by the accidental transmission of a virus from a reservoir species to a novel species (humans), and this type of spillover event is only expected to increase with human pressures on wildlife. Sadly, due to the global pandemic and travel restrictions, 2020 has left a problematic gap in our biosurveillance data. While this cannot be recovered, it becomes paramount that we are prepared for a greatly expanded 2021 field season. This will entail a larger team, wider sampling among various taxa, and screening for more pathogens than ever before.
The video below shows a rare glimpse into some of the fieldwork that we do related to wildlife health monitoring, as well as some of the conservation technology we are developing. We had planned one of our most ambitious field seasons for this summer, but all of that planning and coordination was no match for a global pandemic. We are currently working hard to find ways that we might prevent a huge gap in not just our long-term data-sets, but also our budget, which has been greatly impacted. This could possibly be achieved with help from our Peruvian partners, including a small team assembled by one of our field veterinarians, but to do this we are also asking anyone who has managed to stay financially secure during these difficult times to consider even a small donation. Your help –even if it is just sharing our posts on social media– means a lot to us, and can be instrumental in allowing this work to move forward at a critical time. We can’t do this without you.
The Field Projects International Team.