Welcome to the Emergence of wildlife during lockdown.
The pandemic has ensured less human interaction and intervention in wildlife. With communities of millions stuck inside during a global pandemic, an absence of human activity has led to an increase in wildlife activity.
What some may deem nature ‘reclaiming’ spaces otherwise dictated to tourism destinations. A re-emergence of wildlife during lockdown. This has resulted in viral footage of heartfelt captures and stories.
Animals around the globe have certainly not missed out on an opportunity to explore deserted popular areas and city centers.
With the temporary closure of national parks/ protected conservation areas, wildlife has taken its own course. From brown bears in Yosemite National park, USA to lions roaming in Kruger National park, these stories and supported footage certainly feels surreal, in matching a pandemic-state 2020 world. However instead of exploring or venturing, some species are enjoying the solitude that is not often afforded to them due to the tourism sector. And although some run-ins with wildlife have been entertaining or endearing from afar, others have been comedic and disruptive, descending on towns and communities with little concern.
Are you curious to find out which animals have been spotted around the world, during lockdown? Read ahead or jump to the headline of your interest.
Coronavirus Pandemic backdrop
Following the 2019 outbreak of the coronavirus, life as we know it has come to a grinding halt; economically and socially. As cases of covid-19 have steadily risen, communities across the world have been forced to social distance with plans of travel taking a backseat.
Although many livelihoods have been threatened, one thing has been made clear; wildlife has re-emerged in the absence of tourism and where once crowded, busy and populated areas stand deserted. This has been a silver lining of hope, an endearing prospect of new beginnings and positive change…
Animals in Lockdown
We have found some of the most shared stories and footage of animals emerging during lockdown…
Coyotes and black bears In YosemiteNational Park
Yosemite National park is one of the most visited natural parks in the United States, situated in the state of California, covering more than 700 000 acres of land.
With averages of up to 4 million visitors annually, it is a a feat of incredible attraction and therefore its conservation is of utmost importance. Due to its cultural indigenous American heritage, Yosemite National Park was designated a World Heritage site in 1984. The Yosemite Valley has been inhabited for 3000 years, with human visitors as early as up to 10000 years ago It is famed for its scenic and impressionable granite cliffs, waterfalls, sequoia groves, lakes, mountains and so much more as an awe-inspiring biological reserve of diversity. Devoted to wilderness and conservation.
In California’s now-closed Yosemite National Park, rangers reported seeing bobcats, bears, and coyotes exploring empty tents and administrative buildings without any human distraction. Biologist and ranger , Katie Patrick reported the many roaming black bears and coyotes out and about using the park’s roads to their advantage, exploring the ins and outs of the park infrastructure usually only open to tourists but now used by the resident bears..
Lions In Kruger national Park
The largest public game reserve in South Africa, The Kruger National Park which was founded in 1898, is the highest ranking park in Africa, creating the ultimate safari and wildlife encountering experience.
Its sheer size is larger than the country of Israel, forming park of the Limpopo Trans frontier park , bordering Mozambique and constituting 20 000 square kilometres.
The Kruger national park wildlife, especially the lions, have been roaming the game park. The usually elusive lions that can normally be found in bush veld are now lounging on the roads throughout the park. Enjoying the quiet break from the usual bustling of tourism with over a million visitors a year.
Increased Caracal sightings in Cape town, South Africa
The more commonly elusive cat known as the Caracal/ “rooikat”, has been spotted frequently during Cape Town’s strict lockdown which enforced not even exercise outdoors.
This has led to a spike in Caracal sightings. Many of which have occured in the normally busy tourist hub, Simon’s Town, where Caracals have moved closer to the seaside in search of food. Simon’s Town is rich in wildlife, and known for its penguin colony. Caracals have also been spotted in camps Bay and Kloof Nek. A resident caracal, named Hermes has made himself known to local communitties who enjoy his guest appreancs during lockdown.
Wild Boars in the streets of Israel
Wild boars have been a source of fear rather than cuteness factor in communities for Israel.
They have been roaming residential buildings and with residents restricted from outside movement during the lockdown, people have begun to fear the return of the boars. In northern Israel, Haifa, a designated ‘ pig patrols’ have been established to keep the wild boar mania managed at any hours.
Increases of pink flamingos in Albania
Wildlife during lockdown in Albania: With tourists home, boats docked and factories silenced under a corona virus lock down, Albania’s pink flamingos and pelicans are flourishing in the newfound tranquility of lagoons stretching along coastline.
Flamingos in their flocks of up to thousands have been spotted soaring over the narta lagoon; a place of significance to bird migration on the Adriatic Coast.
The flamingo population in this area has increased by up to a third of its size. A triumphant record in environmental restoration. With humans kept home under lockdown, “wildlife have regained all of their absolute rights and are enjoying all the freedoms of nature,” said the chief of the protected area.
The survival of flamingos in this area were threatened by rapid urbanization, heavy industrial activity and the consequence of this on vulnerable ecosytems. The lockdown has created positive waves of change and hope for a sustainable future.
With less sea vessels disturbing wildlife activity, less car traffic and noise pollution, and neighboring factories being scrutinized for their unsustainable methods which have polluted water bodies and contributed to waste disposal, has forced changes in management to be more conducive to eco practice, this has allowed the local environment to have an opportunity to recover.
Herds of Dugongs in Thailand Hat Chau Mai National Park
It is highly usual to see the threatened Dugong in shallow waters of the usually bustling Thailand holiday- maker’s hotspot.
With absence of large tourist groups, Dugongs have emerged in their troops, making their presence known which has been captured via drone foortage and shared globally. These Dugongs were spotted off Libong island in the Trang province of Thailand.
Animal enthusiast and naturalists have reported multiple sightings of the re-emergence of marine life in now undisturbed areas due to global lockdowns enforced.
The herds of Dugons have been a symbol of hope as the Dugong species is dangerous threatened and Thailand’s population currently only stands at about 250 Dugongs, meaning their habitat and conservation needs to be protected critically once we emerge into tourism commencement post covid again.
Cougars in Santiago, Chile
Chilean authorities have witnessed multiple cougars moving into urban areas over the last few weeks, these cats were spotted strolling through an upscale suburb of Santiago amid the evening quiet imposed by a nationwide, nighttime curfew due to the corona virus pandemic.
The eerie quiet of a city without people may be attracting the normally reclusive cats, said Marcelo Giagnoni, regional director of Chile´s Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG).
Giagnoni said severe drought in the dusty foothills around Santiago had likely already brought the cats, desperate for food, to the city´s door step. The now barren streets were enough to entice the nearby cats to enter the city
As human populations grow and encroach on natural habitat, interactions between people and wildlife continue to increase. Protective regulations have further helped once-endangered animal populations to bounce back, further spurring potential urban-wildlife conflict. This issue needs to receive the appropriate attention and action to ensure that human and widlife counterparts are protected.
Herd of wild goats Northern Whales, UK
Andrew Stuart, a resident of Llandudno, Wales, followed a herd of goats as they continued to return to town over a period of days and the video clips of this have been seen more than a million times in total after they were uploaded by Andrew Stuart, a journalist with the regional newspaper Manchester Evening News.
Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
Not only has wildlife had an opportunity to flourish but lockdown across the world has created all time records of reduction in pollution, improving the quality of air. Although the ultimate goal is for this to be sustained long-term.
At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by –26% on average. The impact on 2020 annual emissions depends on the duration of the confinement, with a low estimate of –4% (–2 to –7%) if pre-pandemic conditions return by mid-June, and a high estimate of –7% (–3 to –13%) if some restrictions remain worldwide until the end of 2020. Government actions and economic incentives after the pandemic will greatly shape the global CO2 emissions path for the foreseeable future.
Lockdown’s negative effect on animal conservation
Whilst there may be positive stories of animals roaming freely during lockdown, there is also a more serious repercussion of lockdown for wildlife. Economic standstill and closure of tourism sectors has resulted in the hindering of crucial revenue stream into conservation and rehabilitation efforts. This has led to the unfortunate culling of animals in captivity or reserves/ national parks and has created opportunity for poaching to increase. Attention has to therefore also be directed at conservation funding efforts and awareness of the reliance on funding from sectors that are now severely affected by the pandemic and consequent lockdowns.
Additionally, this is an issue of concern because most of the world’s richest biodiversity is found in the low-income countries and emerging economies of the Global South, and in such places the economic impacts of the pandemic are likely to be devastating for the natural world. Revenues from tourism can offset some of the costs local people pay and provide an incentive for conservation, but this fragile coexistence may not last if visitors stay away.
So while the newly emboldened wildlife of Western cities brings joy in these dark times and a welcome reminder of nature’s resilience, the world’s wildlife won’t be saved by a temporary economic lull, and although a lovely silver lining, this cannot overshadow the urgency for relief efforts. To achieve that, we’re going to have to ensure conservation moves to the top of the agenda in the post-pandemic world.
The pandemic has affected many non-profit conservation organizations around the globe. They are now more depserate for donations than ever. We have provided a link where direct donations can be made to one of the following efforts/ causes…
Elephant Crisis Fund, Pangolin Crisis Fund & Lion Recovery Fund:
Greater respect for wildlife post Coronavirus
The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic is having undeniable human and economic impacts. At current, the virus has caused more than 500,000 confirmed deaths worldwide, millions of job losses and stock markets have plummeted internationally.
This pandemic is also a stark reminder of our dysfunctional relationship with nature. The current economic system has put great pressure on the natural environment.
Given our interconnected and ever-changing world, with air travel, wildlife marketing and a changing climate, the potential for further serious outbreaks remains significant. Pandemics are, therefore, often a hidden side effect of economic development and inequalities that can no longer be ignored. In other words, just as carbon is not the cause of climate change, it is human activity – not nature – that causes many pandemics.
This coronavirus crisis has demonstrated our socioeconomic system’s inherent vulnerability to sudden change/ unpreparedness. As businesses assess how to emerge from this crisis and plans emerge for post-pandemic living, the state in which the environment is supported, has to be of key concern. The decisions made on how to stimulate growth and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic will determine the future health, wellbeing and stability of people and the planet.
This is why the practicing of ecotourism and environmentally conscious travel will be of utmost importance when tourism once again commences.
Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This has to reflect in implementation marketing of and, participation in ecotourism practice and principles. They follow as:
- Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness surrounding respect for local communities, biodiversity conservation and responsible use of resources.
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts/ mutually beneficial.
- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
- Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
- Design, construct and operate low-impact/ sustainable facilities.
- Recognize and respect the rights and practices of Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment, involving local communities in decision making and profit.
You can read more about Ecotourism here:The International Ecotourism Society
A few examples to practice Eco-conscious travelling.
1. Don’t bag it You want memories of your holiday to last for years, but 500 years is far too long. Plastic bags can take that long to biodegrade so remember your reusable alternatives to plastic products.
2. Pack lightly. Every kilogram makes a difference when flying. More weight equals more fuel usage after all.
3. Share the load Taking public transport is one of the best things you can do for the environment when traveling. It means you’re not creating any additional carbon emissions from private transport. It will also add to your travel experience, providing you with opportunities to interact with locals.
4. Travel overland Cut out just one five-hour flight and your carbon footprint will be a tonne lighter. And you’ll get to see more of the countryside too!
5. Be at home in a hotel A great tip is to remember to act in a hotel like you would at home – avoid getting clean towels when not necessary, don’t have long showers and remember to turn off TV, lights and aircon when you leave the room.
6. Choose a carbon-offset adventure. Support local, ecotourism, conscious initiatives ect.
7. Stick to the path When hiking, always stay on marked trails and maintain a safe distance from any animals you encounter. Going off the beaten path could mean you trample on protected or endangered plants.
8. Power in numbers. Smaller groups tend to have less of an environmental impact, so travel with a small group tour operator that’s environmentally responsible. Before you book, ask what size the group will be. While you’ve got their attention, why not also ask how the operator gives back to the community you’ll be visiting.
We need to take responsibility for our lifestyle choices, to actively work towards sustainability and hold parties accountable to practicing sustainability too. We may all be a part of the collective problem, BUT we can be a part of the solution too! We can be #responsiblenomads.
Summary on Emergence of wildlife during lockdown
2020 has brought with it, many challenges to communities across the globe, but it may have also created a unique opportunity to re-evaluate and re-innovate systems that are not aligned with sustainability.
Emerging into a post- lockdown state, there exists an opportunity to create and inspire positive changes toward a more intrinsically environmental state. Where both wildlife and human communities can thrive together in mutual benefit.
If you enjoyed reading this you may enjoy our blog about post corona travel in Europe, which will surely inspire you to start planning your next trip and animal encounter! Take a look at the above clips of some animals enjoying lockdown without humans.
We hope you enjoyed this. Let us know if you’ve witnessed any emergence of wildlife during lockdown near you?