Cougars, deer, wild boars, wild turkeys, crazy monkeys and even dolphins … As people retreat into their homes and more and more countries isolate themselves, wild animals emerge from their hiding places to explore the empty streets of the largest cities.
Nature takes over the empty streets of the cities of the world and this happens not only in Venice!
Wild boars descend from the hills around Barcelona, while sika deer sniff their way around the deserted metro stations of Nara, Japan.
Indian social media went wild with footage of a deer running through Dehradun, the capital of the northern state of Uttarakhand.
A herd of goats has taken over the deserted streets of Llandudno, North Wales, where residents are isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gangs of wild turkeys roamed the streets of Oakland, California, while a cougar found itself in the center of the Chilean capital, Santiago, under curfew.
“This is the habitat that they once had and that we took from them,” said Marcelo Gianoni, head of the Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service, which helped police catch the curious big cat.
Foxes were at the forefront of new urban explorers. - They change their behavior very quickly. When the house becomes quiet, they are immediately inside.”
Animals and birds that commonly live in city parks, such as sparrows and pigeons, are also more likely to venture outside of their normal territories, Juilliard said, "making room for other animals."
While bird choirs at dawn and dusk brought comfort to many trapped city dwellers in their homes, museum acoustics specialist Jerome Suer said that doesn't mean there are more city birds here than before.
Moreover, with reduced road noise, we can hear them better. Some, however, "stop singing when there is noise, so they now sing more freely."
“Animals get rid of human noise pollution,” Suer said. And that was the right time for them to start their mating season.
Love is in the air
With the hunting season suspended in several European countries, this promises to be in the spring and possibly the summer of love in the animal kingdom.
This is certainly great news for species like the common toad and spotted salamander. Amphibians in love have been spared the “risk of crossing busy roads” in their rush to find a mate, said Jean-Noel Riffel of the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB).
With few walking dogs to disturb them, the cubs also get an idyllic start to life, while birds such as the Mediterranean gulls, which nest along the sandy river banks, remain untouched.
In the Calanques National Park, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea next to France's second city, Marseille, wildlife is "restoring its natural habitat at an amazing rate," said park president Didier Reo.
Flowers and plants too
And the same goes for plants. Wild orchids - which are supposed to be protected - are often harvested by humans when they bloom in late April and May, Riffel said. This year they will be spared this fate.
And in cities and suburbs, unmown lawns will be a source of “bounty for bees, bumblebees and butterflies,” added Juilliard.
But for him, the biggest change is the effect it has on people.“Perhaps the most important phenomenon is the change in our relationship with nature, when people, locked in their homes, realize how much they miss nature,” he said.
Trapped in confined spaces, with their worlds reduced to a few square meters, the introverted city dwellers suddenly became avid bird watchers.
British bird watcher David Lindo, who is known as the "City Birdman", watches birds from the roof of a building in Spain, where he was quarantined.
“The sky is a great arena, anything can fly by and at least it will give you peace. My message is simple: keep looking up,” he told his newfound followers.
However, there are also downsides to blocking people out to nature.
Work to limit invasive species has been largely stopped, warned OFB's Loic Obled, as well as to help endangered species.
And when the lockdown finally ends, Riffel warned that "people will need nature, and there is a risk of too many visitors (to nature parks), which will not be good for flora and fauna."
Natural respite from a person can be quite short-lived. But plants and animals should enjoy this liberation from the oppression of humanity while they have such an opportunity …