Human impact on wildlife

Human impact on wildlife revealed by COVID-19 lockdown

According to a paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the leaders of a new global initiative describe how studies throughout this devastating health crisis can inspire ingenious approaches for sharing space on this significantly crowded world, with benefits for both human beings and wildlife.

Lots of nations around the globe entered into lockdown to regulate the COVID-19 spread. This period of unusually lowered human mobility, brought about by the most unfortunate scenarios, which the article’s authors coined ‘anthropause,’ can give very useful insights into human-wildlife interactions.

Over the past few months, plenty of messages on social media are reporting uncommon wildlife encounters. According to the anecdotal observations, particularly from cities, suggest that nature has responded to lockdown. Not only more animals can be seen than usual, but there are also some unexpected visitors including dolphins were spotted in untypically calm waters in the harbor of Trieste, Italy, and pumas have been seen lurking in the streets of downtown Santiago, Chile.

The pandemic has developed new challenges for other species. For instance, some urban-dwelling animals, like gulls, rats, and monkeys, might battle to make ends fulfill without accessibility to food from humans

. Decreased human presence might possibly put endangered species, such as rhinoceroses or raptors, at higher danger of poaching or oppression, in remote areas.

The writers highlight that society’s priority must be to tackle the immense human disaster as well as difficulty triggered by coronavirus pandemic. However, for the first time on a really international level, the level to which modern human mobility impacts wildlife, they argue that we can not afford to miss the opportunity to chart.

Human impact on wildlife
Movebank data worldmap. Credit: MPIAB/ MaxCine

Recently scientists created the “COVID-19 Bio-Logging Initiative” to address this challenge.  This international consortium will certainly investigate animals’ activities, behavior, and stress levels using data collected with nifty animal-attached electronic devices called ‘bio-loggers’ before, during, and after COVID-19 lockdown.

Professor Christian Rutz, lead author, a biologist at the University of St Andrews, UK, and President of the International Bio-Logging Society, clarifies: “The field biologists have attached mini monitoring gadgets on animals around the world. A goldmine of data on animal movement and behavior is provided by these bio-loggers, which we can now tap to boost our understanding of human-wildlife interactions, with benefits for everyone”.

In an attempt to develop an international picture of lockdown effects, the group will certainly incorporate results from a variety of animals, including mammals, fish, and birds.

“The worldwide study community responded rapidly to our recent call for partnership, providing over 200 datasets for analysis and we are really happy with this support”, said Dr. Francesca Cagnacci, Principal Investigator of the Euromammals research network, and a Senior Researcher at the Edmund Mach Foundation in Trento, Italy.

What do scientists want to discover?

Dr. Matthias-Claudio Loretto, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Radolfzell, Germany, describes it will be feasible to address previously unbending questions: “We will certainly be able to explore if the activities of animals in modern landscapes are mainly influenced by built frameworks, or by the existence of people which is a big deal”.

As per Professor Martin Wikelski, Director of Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Radolfzell, Germany – these insights will certainly in turn influence cutting-edge proposals for improving human-wildlife coexistence, “No one is asking for human beings to stay in permanent lockdown. However, we may discover that fairly small modifications to our lifestyles as well as transportation networks can potentially have significant advantages for both humans and ecosystems”.

Worldwide wild animal research during this period of crisis will give unpredicted possibilities for people to create mutually beneficial coexistence with other species, and to find exactly how important a healthy environment is for our own well-being.

Author: Sruthi S