There was something so powerful yesterday. You can see the expression of peace of this man, who has just hunted an endangered baboon. His clothes a bit torn, his skin meshed with dirt, and the carcass over his shoulder. He doesn't necessarily stand proud. He stands comfortably. He has food for the night, and his expression is a bit somber and innocent. There is no malice in his eyes. Instead, he looks into the camera with a child's eyes. Similar to how a virus is etched with the code "Replicate"; his mantra and his life code is to "Hunt for food." If you look at his lower torso and legs, you can see the primate's blood dripping in long thin spaghetti strands along his legs. This is not just a visual aesthetic, but the start to a chain reaction that isn't even realized by this simple man.
This is the only thing he knows. He hunts for animal protein, and with the scarcity of other game, rapidly increasing, he knows not of the implications of his actions. He knows not of the high susceptibility of viruses that lay borne in these animals. Touching these tissues, having the blood intermingle and touch his skin, to be constantly drenched in it. This is how viruses that originate in animals like monkeys and pigs, crossover to humans. It's the front line. These are the veterinarians, farmers, and hunters in the wild. But while the veterinarians are educated on the matter, these hunters do not know of the huge impact of their actions. Hunt these animals or starve are the options they see on the table. They do not even know that from a worldwide perspective is, potentially contract an animal virus and spread it to your community, which will proliferate like wildfire across the world because of the ubiquitous communication there is. We live in such an interconnected world, that is a blessing and obstacle to deal with.
A powerful question is thus, how can we place the responsibility of the world's fate, in case of a virulent virus outbreak (think H1N1 but deadly -- a virus that is not only highly transmissible but potent), in the hands of those who fight to survive. How can we put such grand decisions and allow these choices to happen without any kind of stake of our own. If we are to be affected by these choices by a pandemic, we need to be a part of the change.
I learned a whole lot at yesterday's lecture. Lots of questions, lots of myths broken, and lots of food for thought. The face of the hunter and his simple expression, spawned an entire discussion in my mind.