Saher Pervez, Green blogger
“COVID-19 pandemic related lockdown decrease stress on biodiversity, but poachers take benefit of lockdown and increase smuggling of endangered species.”
The COVID 19 pandemic is impacting human society across the world. To reduce the spread of COVID 19, lockdown was pursuing all over the world which restrict all anthropogenic activities. It is reported that due to reduced human pressure on natural resources cleaner air, water and wildlife recovering contested habitats. Not only reduction in air and water pollution is observed, biodiversity is also benefitting from reduced human activities. During lockdown humans were also restricted to enter into national parks and protected areas. Decline in visitors number in protected areas due to travel restriction and park closure have decreased stresses on sensitive endangered animals.
Human restrictions due to pandemic also reduce accidental deaths of animals. This year toll for roadkill by cars and trucks is much lower than the previous years, which in UK alone per annum takes life of approximately 100,000 hedgehogs, 30,000 deer, 50,000 badgers and 100,000 foxes, along with many other species of birds, inspects and animals. It seem to have given animals the confidence to go into our cities and stay for longer. In urban areas animals are travelling emptied streets and waterways, and delighting human inhabitants along the way. According to chairman of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board approximately 30 percent more wildlife at Margalla Hills National Park have been observed.
Despite positive impacts, it also have negative impacts from black rhinos being poached in Botswana to coughing tiger in New York. Poaching of endangered species may rebound as establishments distract their attention to enforcing COVID-19 precautionary measures and because tourists stay away and many park rangers are left out of work. According to wildlife conservation organization Panthera, in Columbia, there has been a surge in the pouching of wild cats including jaguars and pumas. While rise in poaching of tiger is reported in India. According to conservation international’s leader, there has been an alarming increase in bushmeat harvest and wildlife trafficking that is directly related to COVID.19 associated lockdowns, declined food availability and damaged economies in Africa. As said by WHO, COVID -19 is a zoonotic disease that’s why poaching and illegal trading of animals might be a cause of second peak in coronavirus cases.
The positive impacts listed above are all likely to be temporary while there is need to protect wildlife from illegal trading, conservation staff should be permitted to move freely like health professionals and they should also be provided with Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) to safeguard them from virus transmission or any other policy should be made to reduce smuggling of endangered species.
About the Author: Saher Pervez, student of Environmental Sciences at GCWUS. She finds it interesting to pen down her ideas and suggestions on environment, climate and sustainability.