Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses such as agricultural and farm expansion, urban planning and extractive industries. Thousands of wildlife species rely on the delicate ecosystems created by the richly bio-diverse forest environments. Deforestation and human encroachment displaces these species and forces heightened interaction between people and animals indicating a high potential for disease transmission. EcoHealth Alliance, Sabah Wildlife Department and DGFC, through the Wildlife Health Unit, have sampled species (rodents, bats, small mammals and monkeys) for pathogens in the Kinabatangan along a deforestation gradient, looking at areas with no deforestation, some deforestation, and areas where once pristine forests have been completely removed. The other two countries involved in the PROJECT DEEP FOREST are Brazil and Uganda.
Since 2011, DGFC has been actively collaborating with EcoHealth Alliance on zoonotic diseases. In addition, several training courses on zoonotic pathogens and primate sampling, safety and biosecurity protocols have been organised by EHA. The courses have been attended by staff from DGFC.