Emerging Infectious Diseases in Africa: What Can the Conservation Community Do to Prepare?


Emerging Infectious Diseases  

Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) represent a significant strain on conservation initiatives, directly threatening wildlife and human health as well as the capacity to generate sustainable livelihoods, food security, and promote environmental conservation.   The majority of EIDs are zoonotic, meaning they are transmissible from animals to humans, and are becoming more prevalent and increasing in impact due to a variety of factors.  Examples of EIDs in Africa include Ebola, Monkeypox, Marburg, Avian Influenza, and HIV/AIDS.   

Growing human populations and associated pressures mean that livestock, wildlife, and people are increasingly forced into greater proximity, making the transfer of diseases more likely.  Diseases emergence is driven by socio-economic, environmental, and economic factors, including:

  • Bushmeat hunting·
  • Wildlife habitat destruction
  • Deforestation
  • Movement of animal species
  • Increased tourism
  • Transboundary parks
  • Global climate change 

Impacts of these diseases pose a diverse set of challenges to the conservation community.  In addition to the threat to wildlife and human health, EIDs can lead to loss of conservation capacity and funding.  Economically, EIDs can be devastating on both the local and national level, especially for livestock-dependent populations.  Ultimately, EIDs may create cycles of illness, malnutrition, and poverty, further impacting sustainable land use, natural resource management, and conservation initiatives. The conservation community is in a unique position to address the threat of EIDs.  A number of actions can be taken to reduce the chance of transmission including conservation of wildlife habitat, community education, and surveillance.  Members of the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) are actively addressing the threat of EIDs through targeted projects throughout the region.

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Date CreatedWednesday, November 5, 2008 3:23 PM
Date ModifiedMonday, August 17, 2009 5:43 PM
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