A new brunt for eco-tourism: human viruses are killing apes

Humans and monkeys always seem to have had a love-hate relationship. On one side, eco-tourists spend fortunes to see and interact with great apes in their natural environment; on the other side, both monkeys and humans are responsible for giving each other deadly viruses. For example, monkeys gave the human race the fatal AIDS, and now scientists have found some of the most common human respiratory viruses are killing endangered apes. Is this nature’s demonstration of karma? Is there a solution?

Further to this discovery, eco-tourists visiting natural reserves to see apes will be obligated to show proof of vaccination, wear masks and disinfect all clothes and boots before setting foot in ape territory. It is also being recommended to keep a 7-10 meter distance from the apes, which kind of screws up any ape-tourist’s long held desire to take a photograph with the primates.

Eco-tourism has many advantages: the tourist dollar is essential and it helps maintain and protect animals and their environments in their natural surroundings. But, when the disadvantages include direct death of the animals, which may ultimately play a notable role in elimination of the entire species from planet earth, should it be permitted at all?