Impact of Covid-19 on wildlife

The present Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in various ways. Depending on our individuality and as a member of a community, the effects of pandemics are perceived differently. While some people strive to adjust to work from home, educating children through technology and getting food through online grocery shopping, others are forced to go out of the house in order to keep civilization running.

The Covid-19 pandemic has unmistakably shaken the life on earth in numerous ways and wildlife is no exception.

The impact of Covid-19 on wildlife has both positive and negative impacts on nature and wildlife. Let us take a deep dive to understand these impacts in a detailed manner.

Positive impact of Covid-19 on wildlife

  • Depletion in wildlife trade:

To reduce the effect of the Corona virus across the globe, the best-suggested way was ‘Break the Chain’. For that, the worldwide lockdown was necessary. During this period, the international as well as domestic routes were ceased. Only emergency travel was allowed, that too with the strict checking protocols.

These situations were very risky for wildlife traders to move animals and their articles from one place to another. This, of course, led to depletion in the wildlife trade.

For over the decades, various governmental and non-governmental agencies were straining every nerve to conquer the illegal trade of wildlife. Having said that, there was never a full stop to this illegal act. Nevertheless, Covid-19 on wildlife has actually ‘broke the chain’ of wildlife trade.

  • Atypical animal sighting in an urban area:

The global lockdown has, unquestionably, increased nature appreciation among people. Lots of people started exploring the various types of bird watching such as butterflying, birding and what not. Enhancing wildlife photography skills became the new pastime for many nature-lovers.

That said, animals were also keen to explore urban life during the lockdown. A bunch of pictures and videos of animals roaming around the streets of cities and towns was being forwarded on social media. Unusual wild animal encounters and behaviors began to appear on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook.

  • Falling in the rate of road kills:

Road kills have been a serious issue regarding wildlife mortality. Over speeding the vehicle in eco-sensitive areas leads to the collision of vehicles and wildlife. Although in some areas, flyovers and underpasses have been constructed, however, the numbers are not sufficient enough.

As people stayed home during the lockdown, the incidents of road kills have decreased exceptionally.

Not only road kills but also accidents occur due to water travel and air travel has lessened during the lockdown. Reduced water travel and other activities such as fishing, oil transport, etc. could reduce the chances of ships colliding with marine species and leading to harming or killing the fauna. It might also help to decrease the marine disruption caused by ship noise, fishing sonar, and recreational vessels.

The decline in the takeoffs of flights has resulted in fewer mishaps of aircrafts striking birds which were one of the greatest threats for avifauna, especially the migratory ones.

  • Privacy to newborn:

The birth of turtle hatchlings on Indian beaches is one of the greatest events of wildlife here. Thousands and thousands of people come to celebrate a moment where millions of turtle babies stepping into the water for the first time.

Last couple of years, during lockdown, all the beaches were empty. Hatchlings faced no anthropogenic disturbance.

Negative impact of Covid-19 on wildlife

  • Increase in the pressure on natural resources:

Due to the Corona virus outbreak, the economy was affected badly. Quite a lot of people lost their jobs or business in the cities and returned to their rural houses. This made them more dependent on natural resources as they were free to use them.

Let us explain this with an example. For cooking, they started using challahs and not gas cylinders. Thus, it resulted in deforestation. This was cost-efficient for them because, unlike gas cylinders, they do not have to pay for cutting down the trees and using woods.

A study from Africa suggests that as the places where tourism was the primary source of income of communities, as it has come to a halt, locals there are consuming bushmeat for their survival at low cost. Although, the trade was reduced poaching for their family purpose was still active. Rather it was increased. A never thought impact of Covid-19 on wildlife

  • Altered behaviour of human-dependent wildlife:

The animals that were dependent on humans for feeding were seen with unusual behaviour. For example, monkeys on highways or temples were relying on humans to fulfill their daily necessities of food. Due to the lockdown, people are not visiting such places. Thus, these animals are struggling to feed themselves properly.

In conclusion, human wellbeing and wildlife wellbeing are inseparably connected to saving nature. Keeping that in mind, various government bodies, non-governmental organizations, networks and different associations are working hard to shield our planet from arising infections and conservation of wildlife.

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