EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on local conservation and global health issues, and Bat Conservation International, which works to conserve bats and their habitats around the world, are joining forces in formal partnership. The organizations will work together to broaden both bat conservation and public health programs that enhance outreach with local communities, government agencies and stakeholders. Expanded capacity-building efforts in key regions are critical for protecting this vitally important and amazingly diverse group of animals.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to build upon our existing bat conservation and global health programs with a leading organization and will allow us to develop innovative programs together that protect bat populations and safeguard human health," said Dr. Peter Daszak, Disease Ecologist and President at EcoHealth Alliance.
"Bat Conservation International is committed to providing an informed and reliable voice of moderation in the increasingly strident debate over bats and human health," said Dr. Dave Waldien, BCI's Director of Global Programs. "We are developing science-based strategies to reduce the risks to both humans and bats. Our partnership with EcoHealth Alliance, with its unequaled expertise on the links that bind ecosystems, wildlife and human health, will dramatically enhance those efforts."
For well over a decade, EcoHealth Alliance scientists have dedicated time and resources to studying diseases in bat populations, while simultaneously protecting these gentle creatures from extinction. The organization's investigations into the emergence of Nipah virus in Southeast Asia, the diversity of viruses in bats, and most recently the discovery of a new SARS-like coronavirus in Chinese Horseshoe Bats demonstrate how EcoHealth Alliance's research activities unravel the connections between bat species and human health.
EcoHealth Alliance continues to generate an increasing amount of scientific evidence that viruses from wildlife spillover into human populations due to human activities such as intensive agricultural expansion, wildlife trade and land-use changes to the natural environment.
Bat Conservation International has, since 1982, combined science, education and conservation action to protect bats worldwide. A key part of that effort uses scientific knowledge to correct the harmful myths and misinformation that have plagued bats for centuries. Public education becomes especially critical amid growing concerns about bats and human health.
The best way to prevent the emergence of bat-borne pathogens is to improve human understanding of bat ecology and change the way bat habitats are impacted. EcoHealth Alliance has expanded its efforts to study the ecology of bat-borne viruses globally, collaborating with local scientists throughout the world to study viruses that threaten public health. The partnership with Bat Conservation International will provide a strategic alliance in the mission to protect bat species and leverage a greater outreach to educate both policy makers and individuals about the important ecosystem services provided by bats.