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African Apes Being Killed by Ebola As Well August 15, 2014
Ape with Congo wildlife staff.
Caregiver at Congo's Virunga National Park wearing a face mask to limit danger of orphan ape being exposed to human diseases.
The Ebola virus that has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa has also devastated the continent’s wild ape population.

Ecologist Peter Walsh with the University of Cambridge says he observed 90 to 95 percent of the gorillas he was studying disappear in a Congolese sanctuary during two Ebola outbreaks earlier this century.

He tells the Voice of America that Ebola, and human diseases being introduced into the wild population, are joining the bush meat trade as the primary reasons the apes are vanishing.

Illnesses, especially from viruses, have exploded among wild primates, mainly due to humans encroaching deeper and deeper into formerly isolated habitats, Walsh says.

He warns the danger works both ways: “We’re giving the viruses those animals carry the opportunity to jump to a new host (humans).”

Photo: U.C. Santa Barbara