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Deadly diseases from wildlife thrive when nature is destroyed, study finds

Exposing the Big Game

Rats and bats that host pandemic pathogens like Covid-19 increase in damaged ecosystems, analysis shows

Damian CarringtonEnvironment editor@dpcarrington

Wed 5 Aug 202011.00EDTLast modified on Wed 5 Aug 202011.18EDT

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The BR163 highway in Moraes Almeida district in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil, September 2019.
The BR163 highway in Moraes Almeida district in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil, September 2019. Photograph: Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images

The human destruction of natural ecosystems increases the numbers of rats, bats and other animals that harbour diseases that can lead to pandemics such as Covid-19, a comprehensive analysis has found.

The research assessed nearly 7,000 animal communities on six continents and found that the conversion of wild places into farmland or settlements often wipes out larger species. It found that the damage benefits smaller, more adaptable creatures that also carry the most pathogens that can pass to humans.

The assessment found that the populations of animals hosting what…

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