COVID-19 has certainly turned the world upside down. One of the most unexpected effects, though, has been on the streets in normally bustling cities. Taking advantage of the quiet roads, wildlife is starting to creep back in and reclaim urban areas. Instagram is now just as likely to show us a badger ambling along the road in Florence, Italy, as it is to show us a civet meandering in Kerala, India.
Animals Take Back the Streets
As we spend day after day locked in at home, it's a wonderful thought that animals are roaming around out there.
Check out these mountain goats in Wales (UK) happily wandering across the road, chewing hedges and hanging out in churchyards:
The town councilor Carol Marubbi told the BBC: “They are curious, goats are, and I think they are wondering what’s going on like everybody else.”
I particularly enjoyed seeing this video of a jolly badger bounding down the street in Florence, Italy:
The badger video was re-posted by @zuzzzurellone, who writes, “More animals flowing to the streets, this badger took advantage of the empty streets in Florence, Italy and thought just to roam around.” Badgers are notoriously difficult to spot, so the thought of them becoming abundant is a lovely one.
What about more exotic animals? Somewhat unbelievably, a puma has been filmed in Santiago:
He seems so emboldened, even a police escort with sirens blaring doesn't seem to faze him.
Likewise, this Indian civet ambling along an empty road in Kerala, India:
@wildlife85official writes: “In an attempt to fight the novel coronavirus, a 21-day lockdown has been imposed on the entire nation. As a result, the roads are empty, the pollution levels are low, and the wildlife is roaming freely on the otherwise busy roads." There have been questions asked as to whether the footage is genuine or if the civet is unwell. @wildlife85official comments, "Some said it is 3D, or he is walking strangely. It is not 3D. Confirmed it. Also possible that it is sick. But they are nocturnal, so finding it difficult to walk in broad day."
Empty casinos are now being frequented by bunnies:
In many cities in India, it may be a common sight to see the occasional monkey on the street, but they're now running amok alongside packs of wild dogs and herds of cows:
It's not just on the streets that wildlife is living it up. Chicago's Shedd aquarium, closed to human visitors, decided to let its resident penguins explore.
And the Texas State Aquarium followed suit, inviting a flock of flamingoes to explore its displays:
Nature Photographers During Lockdown
It must be torture for nature photographers to be stuck at home during lockdown while all this amazing re-wilding happening in our streets. How are they keeping busy?
Milanese photographer Camilla Ferrari, for example, reports in National Geographic that she's keeping busy by finding "beauty in what surrounds me, by rediscovering my house and its poetry through photography and video. I believe this forced process of slowing down will soon reveal how our behavior has affected both the Earth and other humans. I’m trying to keep my mindset as positive as possible by reading, researching, meditating, and taking pictures.”
Now, that's something we could all be doing during lockdown!
Photographs of Further Environmental Change Thanks to COVID-19 Lockdowns: Clear Skies and Waters
The good news for wildlife extends to reduced pollution levels in cities. The Evening Standard reports that "toxic fumes from London traffic fall to the lowest level since the fifties during coronavirus lockdown."
There's growing evidence that pollution made COVID-19 worse, but that now, remarkably swiftly, lockdowns are clearing our once polluted skies. The reduced pollution means skies are now clear and views no longer obscured by smog.
For once, the streets are empty, and the skies are clear. San Jose in Costa Rica is known for its smog-filled skies, but it's now possible to look across the city and see it clearly.
Likewise, the usually clouded water in Venice's canals are currently crysta clear:
The combination of empty streets, clean water, and clean skies are long overdue, and it's wonderful to think that at least some environmental good is emerging during this worldwide catastrophe. Personally, I'm taking some comfort in these videos of re-wilding in the streets and photographs of the skies clearing — a very tiny silver lining to the tragedies happening around the globe currently.