Amidst gloom and doom, there is a silver lining as the lockdown has led Mother Nature to redeem itself. The smog which had become order of the day has given way to blue skies, marine life is seeing increased activity, pollution levels have dropped, and animals as well as birds are moving about on their own accord.
The satellite imagery shows signs of nature rejuvenating itself. COVID-19 has been an eye-opener. It has shown how mother earth can bounce back to life if we humans shed our greed and allow it.
Now it is being realized the world over that the live animal, the animal trade has led to outbreak of infectious diseases.
In the recent years there have been Ebola, bird flu, Swine flu, Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), Rift Valley fever, severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), West Nile virus and Zika virus all cross from animals to humans. These are diseases of animal origin. The contagion believed to have emanated from a wet market that kept live animals in Wuhan in China has thrown upon the truth that viruses found host in animals and moved to people.
Many animals and other forest species have in them dangerous viruses but biodiversity allows them to retain these in forests and away from human surroundings. The trade in wild species like wolf pups to rats, civets to foxes, horses to pigs and bats resulted in viruses entering people.
There is scientific evidence that lethal viruses like Nipah and Hendra, involved transfer from bats to pigs, horses and human beings. The COVID-19 has again given a warning that we invited such a terrible outcome by recklessly playing with the environment and killing wild life for food.
The current pandemic has taken a heavy toll killing large number of people and leading an economic devastation. The evidence is clear that we need to keep forests and wildlife species undisturbed.
While the pandemic is unsparing for all, it is a fact that the poorest suffer the most. The farmers, the workers and the businesses all are at the receiving end, but we have forgotten the invisible helping hands-the people who iron other clothes, the marginal shopkeepers, the corner “paanwalas”, the cobblers, the tailors who repair our clothes, the barbers, the electricians, the plumbers, the “maalis”, the rickshaw pullers, the cab drivers, the auto rickshaw drivers, those who sing and entertain us in running trains, buses and streets and maids.
The invisible hands, the men and women of the lowest strata of economy have disappeared. They are without support from the governments or any groups. They were living on a day to day income and are in real distress but we have not heard any case involving these invisible people begging for their children, women or ailing families. Let’s not forget these people who make the wheels of the urban life turn!