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What Wild Animals Were Doing During COVID Lockdown

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Wildlife can be seen running during the pandemic. Wild animals moved around more when humans were in lockdown due to Covid, a new study reveals. PHOTO BY MARK GOCKE/SWNS

Wild animals moved around more when humans were in lockdown due to Covid, a new study reveals.

In fact, they roamed about 73 percent greater distances than previously, researchers found.

Scientists found that dramatic changes in human behavior during lockdowns in the first months of the global COVID-19 pandemic resulted in behavioral changes among land mammals.

Researchers around the world, including members of the Covid-19 Bio-Logging Initiative, analyzed global data from land mammals tracked by GPS devices.

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Their findings, published in the journal Science, showed that animals traveled up to 73 percent longer distances than in the previous year when there were no lockdowns.

Dr. Marlee Tucker, of Radboud University in Holland, said: “There were many media reports that nature was recovering during those first lockdowns.

“For example, cougars were roaming the streets of Santiago, Chile, but we wanted to know: is there any evidence of this? Or were people simply paying more attention to everything while being at home?”

Dr. Tucker, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, and colleagues collated data on the movements of 43 different species of land mammals from around the world.

In total, more than 2,300 individual animals, including elephants, giraffes, deer and bears.

The research team compared the mammals’ movements during the first period of lockdowns, from January to mid-May 2020, with movements during the same months a year earlier.

Dr. Tucker said: “We saw that during strict lockdowns, animals traveled up to 73 percent longer distances in a period of 10 days than the year before when there were no lockdowns.

“We also saw that animals occurred on average 36 percent closer to roads than the year before. This is probably because those roads were quieter during strict lockdowns.”

The researchers said there are several explanations for the results with fewer people outside during strict lockdowns, giving animals the opportunity to explore new areas.

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The researchers said there are several explanations for the results with fewer people outside during strict lockdowns, giving animals the opportunity to explore new areas. PHOTO BY GERAN DE KLERK/UNSPLASH

Professor Thomas Mueller, of Goethe University in Germany who designed the study with Dr. Tucker, said: “In contrast, in areas with less strict lockdowns, we saw that animals travelled shorter distances.

“This may have to do with the fact that during those lockdowns, people were actually encouraged to go into nature.

“As a result, some nature areas were busier than before Covid-19.”

The researchers said that lockdowns provided a “unique” opportunity to study the effects of an abrupt change in human presence on wildlife.

Dr. Tucker added: “Our research has shown that animals can respond directly to changes in human behavior.

“This offers hope for the future because, in principle, this means that making some adjustments to our own behavior could have a positive effect on animals.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Saba Fatima and Newsdesk Manager

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