Around the world, government resources diverted to pandemic efforts have opened opportunities for illegal land clearing and poaching.
Biologist Carlos Ruiz has spent a quarter-century working to save golden lion tamarins, the charismatic long-maned monkeys native to Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.
Enter the coronavirus, which is now hampering critical work to protect threatened species and habitats worldwide.
First, members of Ruiz’s team exposed to the virus had to be quarantined. Then the government closed national parks and protected areas to both the public and researchers in mid-April, effectively barring scientists from the reserves where tamarins live.
In Guatemala, indigenous communities that monitor rainforests are struggling to contain one of the worst fire seasons in two decades, as government firefighting resources are devoted to the pandemic.
“Ninety-nine percent of these fires are started by people, and it’s mostly done deliberately to open space for illegal cattle ranching,” said Erick Cuellar.