Gabon is a hotspot for new viruses and bacteria to jump the species barrier and cross over to humans. This is the frontline of the next pandemic, raising concerns worldwide. Research suggests that some of the most lethal illnesses in recent history, such as Ebola, HIV, and now even the novel coronavirus COVID-19, began in animals.
In response to this potential threat, scientists have decided to partner with traditional hunters who monitor wildlife for any signs of worrying new pathogens while they hunt to feed their villages. This provides researchers with valuable data from the frontlines of disease transmission — information that could save thousands of lives if it prevents an outbreak.
These hunters are making a significant contribution not only to their own communities but also to global health initiatives. From tracking cases of disease-carrying animals or suspicious carcasses in affected areas, they help scientists understand how these diseases emerge and spread within animal populations — which could be crucial for preventing humans from becoming infected with zoonotic (animal-borne) illnesses.
This important work has been documented in a new documentary called “The Hunters: Fighting Deadly Viruses at the Source” by filmmaker Joanne Hockman. The film follows the heroic efforts of Gabon’s hunters as they patrol their ancestral lands searching for clues about deadly viruses before they can reach us – showing how rarely acknowledged indigenous knowledge is leading science into uncharted territory and ultimately helping us better prepare ourselves against future pandemics.
So, if you want to learn more about this fascinating story and how Gabon’s traditional hunters are helping protect our world from deadly viruses, make sure you watch “The Hunters: Fighting Deadly Viruses at the Source”!