Interview with Disease Ecologist Anne Laudisoit

This is an excerpt of a long distance interview that Bioneers Senior Producer J.P. Harpignies conducted via Skype with Anne Laudisoit, a Belgian explorer, wildlife field biologist and disease ecologist affiliated with the EcoHealth Alliance. She has long tracked emerging and neglected vector-borne zoonotic diseases in a wide range of ecological and social contexts from Tanzania, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Kazakhstan.

An award-winning film directed by Caroline Thirion about Anne’s discovery of a hitherto unknown-to-science band of chimpanzees in a remote unstudied forest fragment in the DRC’s Ituri Province in 2015, “Mbudha: In the Chimpanzees’ Footsteps”, was screened at the 2019 Bioneers Conference.

Since 2015, among other projects, Anne has worked in partnership with Congolese researchers and local villagers to continue exploring this often war-torn area’s flora and fauna and help develop conservation plans for the region.

Harpignies spoke with Laudisoit in late April, reaching her on the banks of the White Nile in Uganda, on the Congolese border. Laudisoit had been in the process of returning to continue her work in Ituri Province when the COVID-19 crisis began shutting down borders and forcing quarantines, and violence (which has only gotten worse since then) flared up again in various parts of the country, including the areas she was slated to work in, so she was unable to enter the DRC and was hunkering down as the only guest in an otherwise shuttered eco-lodge.

She was in a little cabin with only a solar lamp as lighting and a wild elephant (frequent visitors) was chewing bushes only a few yards away behind her little cabin during the conversation.

To learn more about Anne’s work, and the work of the EcoHealth Alliance, visit www.ecohealthalliance.org

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