Conservationist Dr Jane Goodall has said that “messing with nature” has led to infectious diseases such as Covid-19 spreading from animals to humans.
The leading primatologist and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute said that, having lived through the Second World War and other pandemics, she knew humanity would make it through the coronavirus outbreak.
However, she suggested the British public could emerge with a better understanding of and relationship with the natural world.
The 86-year-old told the PA news agency: “We’ve had pandemics before, but we’ve never reacted quite like this.
“I’m not a biologist, but some biologists say that this is very dangerous and they’re hoping enough people will catch it and survive, so that they become immune and eventually it’ll die out.
“But the point is, having lived through World War Two, having lived through other pandemics, having lived through nasty situations in Africa, I know that we will get through this.
“We’re bound to get through it – and hopefully we’ll emerge better.
“Hopefully there will be more understanding of the fact that it’s our messing with nature, cutting down forests, bringing people and animals close together, hunting animals and eating them, and selling them that’s led to these viruses spreading from animals to people…
“I’m hoping what will emerge from this is a better attitude and understanding of our relationship with the natural world.”
Goodall, whose latest documentary The Hope examines her 60-year legacy, praised Greta Thunberg’s environmental efforts but said they had different methods.
She said: “She’s done a lot to raise awareness, there’s no question about that. Her method isn’t my method, but she’s quite a sweet person.
“Of course she’s got Asperger’s, she (is) young, she doesn’t have experience behind her, but she has inspired lots of kids.
“I wish in a way I could infiltrate Roots and Shoots into all those marching youth, get them to not just wave placards, but take action, plant trees and lead by example. That’s why I say we probably need both.”
Jane Goodall: The Hope airs on National Geographic and National Geographic Wild on Wednesday April 22.