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Training Manual on Wildlife Diseases and Surveillance
– Human and animal populations have increased exponentially since the industrial
revolution of the mid-1800s. This sudden rise in numbers and densities of hosts for emerging
pathogens is unprecedented in human history and is a major factor driving disease emergence.
The graph below shows global human population growth from 100,000 years before present to
2009, with an uncertain projection into the future. Global livestock populations have shown a
parallel increase in numbers in the past 150 years.
– There are many examples of large-scale environmental changes: large surface mines,
the current rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, massive forest cutting, and expansion
of agriculture.
– Rapid long-distance transport of people, animals, animal products, their pathogens
and vector species such as mosquitoes also has increased in parallel with the rise of global
human populations.
– Trade in wild animals and wild animal meat has risen extraordinarily fast in the past
few decades. There are few studies of its magnitude, but legal trade is enormous and illegal trade
may be as large again. In the Congo basin of Africa, it was estimated in 2002 that 4.9 million
metric tons (tonnes) of meat from wild mammals was being harvested each year, and in the
Serengeti National Park of Tanzania, it was estimated, also in 2002, that at least 52,000 people
participated in illegal harvest of wild animal meat in this protected area.
– During this period of rapid population growth, human populations also have moved
from rural to urban environments, resulting in major changes in human ecology.
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