Deer in the city center, turtles on the beaches, and dolphins near the shore – people stay at home, but animals walk where they want. So nature reacts to the weakening of human impact. Who benefits from the epidemic: in the RIA Novosti material.
Back to the native places
In March, frames of deer roaming the center of Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, circled the world. Before the epidemic, this was not possible due to crowds of tourists. And in April, photographers captured in the Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv how a horde of hungry jackals lit into the food left by a local resident for dogs. Due to quarantine, animals again felt like owners of territories once taken away from them.
Holiday at the seaside
Ecologists counted 11 clutches of leatherback turtles on one of the Phuket Island’s beaches (Thailand), although they have not seen a single in the last five years. In Florida, 76 clutches were found in the 15-kilometer stretch of the coast, which is significantly more than usual for this time of year.
Leatherback turtles are the largest in the world. They live everywhere except the polar regions, but they are endangered by environmental pollution and climate change. Marine reptiles appreciated empty beaches and the absence of garbage (especially plastic.
Employees of the Marine National Park of Thailand caught on video using the drones a herd of thirty dugongs near Libong Island. These large slow-moving mammals are very vulnerable and suffer greatly from ocean pollution with plastic and other debris.
Playing dolphins were spotted in the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul in late April. Previously, they did not come close to the shore because of many fishermen, but now they are bolder and swam up in search of fish, which also became more due to reduced shipping.
This sudden freedom has a flip side of the coin, editorial board members of the Biological Conservation Journal write. Protected areas earned money from tourists, which were spent to save endangered species. Now there are no incomes, and field research, environmental practices and volunteer programs are interrupted.
In addition, there are fears that as soon as quarantine measures begin to weaken, crowds of people who miss the greenery and fresh air will flow into the parks and out of town. This will cause great stress in the wildlife.
The current epidemic has highlighted yet another problem, i.e., the risk of transmitting dangerous infections from wildlife to humans. HIV, Ebola, Nipah, SARS, MERS and H5N1 are all viruses once transmitted from natural reservoirs to the human population, causing epidemics. Probably, although this has not yet been proven, SARS-CoV-2 also came to us from wild animals such as bats or pangolins.
The risk increases due to the fact that people are increasingly developing wildlife habitats in the tropics and subtropics, entering into direct and indirect contacts with them. Another factor is the large market for illegal trade in rare species, which is also intended for the exotic food demands of rich people, national habits, and traditional medicine.
Scientists at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (Italy) cite pangolins, small armored nocturnal mammals living in Asia and Africa, as an example. Since ancient times, local residents eat them and use them for medical treatment. This is the best-selling animal in the world.
In China, the hunting of pangolins, whose meat is considered a delicacy, and scales – a panacea for many diseases, put them on the brink of extinction. Given that these species may be intermediate hosts for the new coronavirus, the country’s authorities closed all wild animal markets, and introduced a permanent ban on the hunting of pangolins for gastronomic purposes.