By Isabella Colatruglio
The 2020 Covid-19 lockdown was an unwelcome occurrence that required a major adjustment to the lives of most South Africans. From being confined to our homes, to many people being out of work, it is safe to say that the Coronavirus has put a dampener on our lives and created a massive setback on the economy and education.
But for the birds and beasts around the world, it has been a completely different story. As the noise from the man-made world died down and we went into hibernation, nature began to stir. From wildlife venturing into cities to reductions in air pollution, the environment seems to be taking the break to bounce back.
Three weeks into lockdown, a pride of majestic lions were photographed soaking up the sunshine as they frolicked in a road at the Kruger National Park. This amazing phenomenon was highly unlikely to occur if the usually busy roads had been occupied. The park ranger who spotted the lions told reporters that the lions had quickly realized that the people had disappeared and had taken advantage of the situation.
From the other side of the world, in Bosphorus, Istanbul in Turkey, a pod of friendly dolphins were spotted swimming just a few meters from the usually busy harbour. Whilst these majestic mammals are commonly spotted in the distance, a nearby sighting like this was completely unexpected. We have the lack of marine traffic in the area to thank, which also had a myriad of other positive effects on the natural world.
Meanwhile in Albania, thousands of pink flamingoes were seen flying over the Narta lagoon.
The national park’s authorities reported that their number had increased by a third, a delightful story that can be credited to the lower pollution levels all over the world, due to economic activities being suspended.
And whilst the canals in Venice became crystal clear, the air pollution in China decreased by almost 25% - and this is the case with most countries! Although experts are quick to tell us that the statistics are are unlikely to have a lasting effect, it is encouraging to hear that cities like Milan have been so inspired by the clear blue view of their skies, that they have devised a plan that will permanently decrease pollution levels.
In our own dear South Africa, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has reported that satellite data shows that Nitrogen dioxide levels have dropped by 23% and 47% for Sulphur Dioxide in our air! This is wonderful news for our country, and we hope, that like Italy, our country will also be inspired to take steps to make these statistics permanent with everyone’s help.
Lockdown has been tough on all of us, but there is a silver lining: while we are confined to our masks and homes, nature is taking its time to repair. These sightings show us that it is not too late to refresh our world and build up the wildlife. With the help of every individual, we can have a fully functioning ecosystem where the natural world can thrive once again.
For Isabella, her love for birds is not just a passion, but a way of life. Born in 2004, she was raised alongside a beautiful flock of chickens as well as many other birds like cockatiels, budgies, quail and water fowl. She considers herself one of the flock and stands strongly against the cruel treatment towards broiler and battery hens. Isabella spends her time writing poetry and essays as well as hatching and raising many species of birds, including strays or injured wild birds. As an aspiring veterinarian, she hopes to make a difference in the lives of broiler chickens as well as the environment