The link between Endangered Species and COVID-19

Below is an extract in published in New Zealand magazine this May

Locked in our bubbles and isolated these past weeks we got the opportunity to experience life as endangered species of Aotearoa. Fragmented from our daily routines and families, facing uncertainty as to different aspects of survival and yes even competition for precious kai. Climate change is the COVID-19 of the natural world, and we as a collective wield the vaccine. 

We can be proud of Aotearoa’s world-leading approach to managing this vaccine. In fact, this is not the first time that we have gone our own path. 85 million years ago we split from Gondwana land, and burst any notion of a Trans-Tasman bubble by separating again from Australia 55 million years ago. Same as now, us carving our own path was a way of preserving life; with our species able to develop in all their endemic vibrancy due to a predator-free environment. Yet we are now losing them. With species facing a range of threats from climate change, habitat fragmentation, land-use change to invasive predator species, thousands of species are at risk of extinction in Aotearoa alone.

Our lockdown was an invitation to experience their life under threat, not in their shoes but through their claws, beaks and scales. Now we know what it is like, now is the time to do something about it. We questioned the legality of lockdown, so too should we question why aren’t Maui or other living taonga, legally protected in the same way that some of our maunga and awa are. We should look at how we can reduce species fragmentation by restoring the once thriving ecosystems both in our backyards and more broadly in our communities, with the sweetness of the Pūriri berry matching the taste of the first soy mocha you got after lockdown. We should also think bigger, whilst we’re reimagining the possibilities of our new post COVID economy- what would a system look like that puts the living environment in all its forms first? 

We have shown we can fight back to a collective threat of COVID, now we have bigger fish to fry or rather protect. If these questions excite you, reach out. 

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