Coronavirus: Dr Jane Goodall believes pandemic brought on humans due to 'absolute disrespect' for nature

Famed chimpanzee expert Dr Jane Goodall believes the COVID-19 pandemic was brought on by humans due to our "absolute disrespect" for the world around us.

The wildlife specialist says history has taught us that viruses can be transmitted between animals and people, and, in a way, we've allowed this to happen.

"From my perspective, it's taught us that we brought this on ourselves because it's been predicted - epidemics, pandemics have been happening - and it's because of our absolute disrespect for nature and animals," she told Rebuilding Paradise with Paul Henry.

"It's been well-known that viruses and bacteria can spill over from animals to people in the right environment, and we've created the right environment."

She says people have destroyed habitats, pushed animals that shouldn't be near each other together, and forced them out of environments into closer contact with humans.

"We hunt them, kill them, eat them, traffick them, sell them for meat in wild animal meat markets in Asia and Africa, and we have these intensive farms where animals are crowded in unsanitary conditions, terrified and frightened. This is how this particular coronavirus, COVID-19, has spilled over."

A World Health Organization scientist says the virus originated in bats and it's likely it arrived in humans through contact with animals raised for food supply.

Dr Goodall says this isn't the first time a virus has originated in an animal and spread among people.

"It was SARS, it was MERS, it was HIV. HIV-AIDS came from eating chimpanzees, MERS came from, probably, uncooked domestic camel meat in the Middle East, and SARS was also from a wildlife meat market in China."

Following many countries going into lockdown due to COVID-19, the environment in larger, industrial cities has changed and become cleaner, and Dr Goodall is hopeful for nature's future because of its resilience.

"Give nature a chance and she bounces back. But the tragedy is will we learn from this or will our political leaders and business leaders be so anxious to get back to business as usual that we'll be preparing for the next pandemic.

"People have had the joy of breathing fresh air, some of them for the very first time, and seeing stars in the bright night sky."

Her hope is that after enough people see how the environment has changed, they won't want to go back to "the old polluted days".

Watch her full interview with Paul Henry above.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz