The pandemic and subsequent lockdown may have forced most human beings to retreat into their homes, but the animals have clearly not got the memo. For, among all those daunting figures and news about COVID-19, are the happy images of nature and wild animals who seem to be reclaiming their rightful space, now that human interference is limited.
There have been some exaggerated claims about dolphins coming back to the canals of Venice or elephants getting drunk in a cornfield, or hilarious memes of how, now that the air has cleared, the Eiffel Tower can be seen from Mumbai or even sarcastic posts on how dinosaurs are returning to New York City for the first time since 65,000,000 BC. However, the internet has also been flooded with real instances of animals venturing out into deserted streets, and of clearer, bluer skies and cleaner water. Further, with the massive reduction in ambient sound, experts have also revealed that birdsong is more audible than ever.
While it is fallacious to think that a few weeks or months spent indoors would reverse all the harm that we have done to nature, the fact remains that with more human being staying indoors, and fewer vehicles around, the air has become less polluted and the land, cleaner.
Drive away your lockdown blues by checking out these images and videos of nature slowly reclaiming its space:
Flamingos in Mumbai: The Thane Creek in Navi Mumbai turned pink amidst the lockdown with the huge flock of flamingos arriving at the creek. Every year, thousands of flamingos migrate to Mumbai between October and March. According to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), this year has seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of flamingos that have visited – while 1.2 lakh birds came in 2019, this year over 1.5 lakhs have visited in the first week of April, itself. These huge numbers are reportedly due to lower human intervention and the ban on construction activity.
With the usually polluting industries shut down due to the lockdown, and with lesser vehicular traffic, the water quality of the Yamuna River has improved significantly, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Other causes of pollution, which include disposal of pooja waste and solid waste and bathing and washing of clothes have also reduced, hence, improving water quality. Further, according to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), the self-purification capacity of the river has increased significantly, while an increased flow of water from Haryana to Delhi has also helped the process.
Pandas get much-needed privacy: Two resident pandas at the Ocean Park in Hong Kong, who had been struggling to mate for the past ten years, have managed to successfully mate while the park is closed to the public. The Park is now hoping that a baby has been conceived under the lockdown, as the chances of pregnancy during natural mating is higher than through artificial insemination.
Llandudno’s foraging goats: The coastal town of Llandudno in Wales, has been experiencing an invasion of a different kind – as the streets have gone quiet and empty amidst the lockdown, herds of Great Orme Kashmiri goats have started to roam the streets. The goats, who live on the limestone headlands of the Great Orme, have descended upon the deserted streets in search of food.
Wild pigs in Paris: Wild pigs were spotted taking a stroll down the streets of Paris in a video shared by a user.
Himalayan peaks from Jalandhar: For the first time in 30 years, the Dhalaudhar Mountain Range of Himachal Pradesh has become visible from Jalandhar, Punjab. This has been attributed to the significant drop in pollution levels with industries shutting down and cars going off-road. The Mountains are located more than 200 kms away from Jalandhar.
Olive Ridley nesting: Around 2.5 lakh Olive Ridley turtles have been sighted coming ashore for nesting during the day time at the Rushikulya Beach, in Odisha’s Ganjam district. While this is an annual process, the turtles were seen nesting during the day - a phenomenon that is occurring after seven years. A total of 8 lakh Olive Ridley turtles have been spotted in hatcheries this year.
Ever since the lockdown has been in place, tourists have been banned from the beaches, and only researchers, guards and environmentalists are allowed. According to officials and conservationists, while the lockdown period may not have a significant impact on the turtles, it could reduce the damage which the eggs suffer otherwise.
Peacocks on Mumbai streets: Peacocks have been dancing on Mumbai’s unusually quiet and deserted streets. Residents of the Khareghat Parsi Colony in South Mumbai were in for a treat when nearly a dozen peacocks, believed to have ventured out of the nearby Doongerwadi Forest, were seen walking around on the streets.
Squirrels sunbathing: While squirrels are a common sight in any city, they mostly confine themselves to the trees, apart from an occasional hurried dash across the ground. Which is why this video, which shows squirrels playing and sunbathing happily in parks across Santa Monica Beach, is such a treat.