Renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall has a message for humanity: the coronavirus pandemic is our own fault, and she saw it coming.
She blames humans’ abuse of nature and treatment of animals for the virus that is sweeping the world and has claimed more than 2.6 million lives so far.
“It’s because we disregard our place in the natural world and we disrespect the environment and animals that COVID-19 happened,” she told CNet in an interview leading up to the release of her new film, Jane Goodall: The Hope.
“Viruses can spill over onto humans in situations like our intensive farming with animals, and also in the meat markets in Asia and Africa. It’s because of our lack of respect for the environment that this terrible COVID-19 virus has shut down the world.”
She added that this was predicted “ages ago” in a book by David Quammen, but “no one paid attention.”
“This time, I hope we will,” she said.
“We are all interconnected,” she told PBS NewsHour. “And if we don’t get that lesson from this pandemic, then maybe we never will.”
Her latest film, released on Wednesday by National Geographic, celebrates her legacy and features a collection of never-before-seen photographs and footage spanning seven decades.
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It’s believed that the novel coronavirus originated in bats and likely jumped to a secondary carrier animal before emerging in humans at a wet market in Wuhan, China, one of the many niche markets across Asia.
World health experts have long raised concerns about such markets, which offer a wide range of farmed and wild animals for consumption, including bats, pangolins, snakes, dogs and cats.
Chinese officials have started cracking down on wet markets amid international pressure over the latest outbreak, which comes less than two decades after SARS emerged under similar circumstances.