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Scientists say tourists taking selfies with orangutans risk giving them Covid

Tourists in countries such as Indonesia in danger of wild extinction gorilla The researchers found by getting too close to primates.

A team of conservation researchers examined social media evidence of visitors to Indonesia’s Mount Leuser National Park and found that, despite the country’s wildlife rules and guidelines, Locally, tourists in Indonesia violated the “10 meter rule” to get close to the endangered gibbon.

Researchers say they have found photos and videos taken by tourists selfies with the creatures and even pet them.

The team said there was “significant potential for disease transmission” from person to orangutan in a report published Monday.

Humans can transmit Covid-19 and other viruses to primates such as orangutans and gorillas.

In September, Dozens of western lowland gorillas at Atlanta Zoo tested positive for Covid, mild cough, runny nose and loss of appetite.

Lead author of the paper, conservation biologist Andrea Molyneaux said: “The risk of zoonotic transmission between visitors and orangutans is extremely concerning.

“There are national park rules that inform visitors of the risks but our results indicate that tourists may not be aware of them. There seems to be apathy in the broader conservation community to promote awareness of these rules. “

The report also highlights the inappropriate proximity between human visitors and orangutans at Gunung Leuser National Park in North Sumatra.

Emma Hankinson, one of the team’s researchers, said: “In the photos that we analyzed, we see tourists touching, patting, cuddling, feeding and getting up close to the orangutan for photos. selfie”.

Orangutans live only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo – the Bornean population is estimated at 104,700, meaning they are classified “endangered” by the World Wildlife Fund, while there are only about 7,500 orangutans. Sumatran orangutans, making them “critically endangered”.

Molyneaux said of the report’s findings: “We urgently need to raise awareness of these rules so that visitors know they are not allowed to approach or feed orangutans,” Molyneaux said of the report’s findings.

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/tourists-selfies-orangutans-covid-indonesia-b1972010.html Scientists say tourists taking selfies with orangutans risk giving them Covid

JOE HERNANDEZ

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