Social distancing, self-isolation, quarantines, and lockdown. Empty streets, schools closed, malls shut down and people imprisoned in their houses. This is not the first time all this is happening. The world has been through pandemics before. The only difference is that in the olden days, medical treatments and awareness was much less than it is now. That’s why the impact of a pandemic was worse at that time. In today’s times, we have taken a lesson from the past and avoided those mistakes which led to the deaths of billions of people. Although people are still dying and the numbers are huge, prompt safety measures have been taken to flatten the curve to some extent. A lockdown has been initiated to normalize things as soon as possible. The question is, how favorable this lockdown has been for nature? Did our environment require this break? Did the Earth need some time off to recover? The answer is debatable. Yes, nature did need this lockdown but for a short time only. In the long run, it might not go too well as far as certain things are concerned.
Improvement in Air Quality
For one thing, the air quality has improved dramatically. Due to the air movements and industrial activities being shut down, and with fewer vehicles on the road, air pollution has decreased by almost 20% in Newyork in 2020 as compared to previous years. Less pollution means more visibility. With the levels of pollution going down, people are able to see mountains for the first time from their houses. This view was obstructed before due to the amount of pollution in the air. Also, due to less Nitrogen Oxide (NO2) in the air, people having cardiopulmonary diseases are now safer than they were before. So during the COVID-19 pandemic, less air pollution is actually a good thing.
The industrial waste that used to be dumped in water before, has halted. The crowds of people have disappeared. The cloudy water is being replaced by clear water. Fish can actually be seen moving around in rivers, which is a rare sight because most of the time the water is muddy. With polluted and trash-filled water, sea creatures have always been at risk, but as the water is getting clearer, it is having a positive effect on their lives as well.
Impact on Wildlife
Covid-19 has brought a change not only in the life of humans but also the animals. With people staying indoors in order to maintain social distancing, wildlife has come searching for them. The coyotes of San Francisco are freely roaming around on the streets without the fear of being shooed away. Raccoons roam the deserted paths of Central Park in Newyork, which were once full of people bustling about. Goats, sheep, and cows are seen grazing freely. It seems that animals are feeling safe to roam around in the absence of humans. While some animals are enjoying their freedom in this pandemic, there are a few who are actually suffering due to it. You must be wondering how? Well, the tourism industry has declined and will probably remain like that all year. Given that, the salaries of guards who protect animals, have also come to a stop. These guards used to keep the animals safe from poaching. With so many people unemployed, poaching has become a common practice, in order to feed their families. What exactly is poaching? Poaching means to hunt animals to acquire their skin or horns or other parts. These parts are then sold for a fortune. This money is used by people who are facing unemployment due to the pandemic. Apart from this, some species rely on human conservation to survive. With the involvement of humans in almost everything, some habitats were thriving. Now with humans being locked up, nobody is there to protect them. If the species lose their habitat, they have nowhere to go and they will eventually die.
Affect on Zoo Animals
Even the zoo animals have been affected. The animals have noticed the absence of crowds,
especially chimpanzees. Also, zoo animals have specialized diets that are possible because
of the income generated due to visitors. Now with the visitors not being able to come, the zoo owners have turned to public donations to cover the expenses of the animals. The zoo staff has been advised to take special care because some animals can contract COVID-19 easily. This has been proven by the fact that almost 7 tigers tested positive in the Bronx Zoo in Newyork. With the lockdown still in effect, the zoo staff is taking all precautionary measures possible to keep themselves and the animals safe from the risk of coronavirus. So, as I said earlier it is debatable whether this lockdown is favorable for nature or not. It is favorable in some areas but things that require human interaction are suffering big time.