By Oboh Agbonkhese
Life-threatening diseases such as HIV, Ebola and Monkey Pox may be mild compared to other diseases outbreak that may occur if adequate expertise is not applied to conservation and management of wild primate.
This warning was given by a Professor of Primate Community Ecology, George Ogunjemite, while delivering the 92nd inaugural lecture at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, on the topic Monkeys and Apes: Man in Its Reminiscence.
Professor Ogunjemite said man must handle primates and other mammals in his environment with utmost care to maintain quality of life and the peaceful co-existence of all living things and prevent catastrophic diseases and plaques that can debilitate the human race.
Similarities with humans
According to him, the remarkable genetic and physiological similarities between chimpanzee and humans explain why they may be easily affected by the same disease causative agents.
He cited the example of the HIV-1 and HIV-2, which are of zoonotic origin with their closest relatives in chimpanzee and related species.
Stressing that the threat of Ebola and Monkey Pox diseases are often products of disturbances of ecological balance in the environment, Ogunjemite further said for human not to encounter a far deadlier disease than the prevailing ones, everyone must develop strong commitment and love for the conservation of all other living resources.
On the way forward Ogunjemite proposed that primate-based eco-tourism should be encouraged for tourist enjoyment, thereby promoting opportunities to admire and support conservation of the species and other animals living within the forest.
He declared that non-human primates provide an important data source for understanding many aspects of human behaviour and physiology.
Ogunjemite, who was introduced by the Chairman of the event, FUTA’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape, also suggested that saving reserves such as the one in Ifon, Ondo State, should be pursued because of its strategic location as an Ecotone for the forest and savannah ecologies of South-West region.
He said the reserve harbours a high number of primate species of rainforest and savannah ecosystem.