Covid-19 is far from over though the silver lining of inoculation is shining on us these days. Having said that, there are certain things that are imperative, like wearing masks and leaving the animals alone, pandemic or not! If animals could talk, they would ask the human race to buzz off; unfortunately, they can, but a semblance of sensible and sensitive human beings can be their voice, and this is what they have to say. New research has found that tourists’ selfies may be putting mountain gorillas at risk of contracting COVID-19. Great apes are very similar to us humans in more ways than a layman knows, which also makes them particularly vulnerable to diseases like the coronavirus. Call it ignorance or blatant disregard of animal lives but the pursuit of the perfect Instagram selfie is endangering the rare wildlife as influencers continue to get up close and personal with gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Magdalena Svensson of the U.K.’s Oxford Brookes University, one of the authors of the paper, mentions, “Thousands of people are visiting gorillas every year. It’s big business. There aren’t many left — around 1,000 worldwide. They’re so genetically similar to us humans that they can easily catch the same diseases as us.” It’s an urgent matter that certainly can’t be taken lightly, especially after the Coronavirus pandemic has affected 109 million people and claimed the lives of nearly 2.5 million people worldwide. The aftermath of influencers encroaching the space of these animals has led to eight western lowland gorillas housed in the San Diego Zoo getting infected with a strain of the novel coronavirus in mid-January, showing ‘mild coughing, congestion, nasal discharge, and intermittent lethargy’ as reported by zoo officials.
Ian Redmond, founder and chairman of Ape Alliance and the Gorilla Organization, specified, “The only example we know of is the gorillas in San Diego that tested positive, and fortunately, all those have survived. Gorillas are close relatives of us — we don’t know if the mortality [rate if] untreated would be the same.” Check out the #gorillatrekking and #gorillatracking hashtags to see what’s going on between picture-hungry humans and privacy-hungry gorillas.