Nature advances as humans retreat - GulfToday

Nature advances as humans retreat

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

As governments and hundreds and thousands of people battle the coronavirus pandemic, cleaner air, empty streets and less human interference seems to have broken nature’s shackles!

Earlier this week, residents of Jalandhar in the Indian state of Punjab woke up to a sight they had never seen before from their homes – the snow-capped peaks of the majestic Himalayan range in the horizon.

Overwhelmed citizens rubbed their eyes in disbelief and drank in the beautiful sight. And social media was flooded with images of the Dhauladhar mountain range, part of the Himalayan range in Himachal Pradesh, which became visible in Jalandhar after years as pollution dipped across Punjab. 

Elsewhere in India, and other countries too, other rare sights were reported. Instances of wild animals roaming the city streets are being shared online not just from India, but around the world, with more pictures and videos emerging each day. While some of them, like the dolphins in Venice, could be misleading, many others are reportedly first-hand accounts by surprised and delighted spotters.

A herd of deer was reportedly seen on the road towards Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, India. Herds of spotted deer were also sighted near Rajaji National park, which is spread over 820 km across three districts in Uttarakhand: Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal. This was a species known as the Barasingha, also known as swamp deer. The herd came onto the streets from the Jhilmil Jheel Conservation Reserve, a marshy grassland near Haridwar. More Barasinghas were spotted in Chandigarh, Punjab.

Scores of Olive Ridley Turtles lie peacefully undisturbed on a beach in Odisha. The Odisha coast has the world’s largest known rookery of the Olive Ridley sea turtle. Apart from this rookery, two other masses where nesting beaches have been located are at the mouth of rivers Rushikulya and Devi. The spectacular sight of the undisturbed mass congregation of Olive Ridley sea turtles for mating and nesting is indeed very rare as they are troubled by tourist, poachers and even stray dogs.

Then came the Bison (the Indian Gour) on to the roads in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, while another breezed through a market. The Indian Gour is native to South and Southeast Asia and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986.

Noida residents also reported sightings of a ‘nilgai’ on a Noida main-road. The nilgai or blue bull is the largest Asian antelope and is plentiful across the northern Indian subcontinent.

Reports of dolphins approaching the Mumbai coast are abuzz on social media. Another resident spotted a snake making itself at home in an unused scooter amid the lockdown and a bird nesting in the rear-view side mirror of an unused car.

Deep down in South India, an astonished driver reported sighting a small Indian civet crossing the road. The footage was recorded in Kozhikode, Kerala, where these civets are abundantly found.

Across the globe, a wild puma was spotted roaming the streets of the Chilean capital Santiago. The young female surprised residents at an apartment complex, before being tranquilized and captured by Chilean authorities. Last week, a young male weighing at least 30kg was captured in a residential neighbourhood before being released back into the wild two days later.

Stories of reported sightings are pouring in from many other countries. A group of dolphins were reported swimming unfettered in the Mediterranean Sea at the Calanques National Park in south-eastern France, even as wild pigs explored Paris.

Wild boar have descended from the hills around Barcelona, Italy. A wild deer roamed undisturbed in a deserted street in the port city of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. A herd of Great Orme goats trotted into Llandudno, a seaside town in Wales. Residents in San Francisco have reported sightings of coyotes, which seem to be venturing farther into the city.

In Nara, Japan, sika deer have wandered through city streets and subway stations. Raccoons were rollicking on the beach in an emptied San Felipe, Panama. And turkeys have showed up across Oakland, California.

In Lopburi, Thailand, the absence of tourists and their tasty snacks left local monkey brawls. Tourists who normally feed these monkeys are staying away due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to hundreds of monkeys running around the roads, fighting over scraps.

Deer were also seen wandering the streets of Zakopane, Poland, and a mole spotted digging above ground in Norwich, England.

Rare sights in these over-populated times!

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