While humans have largely stayed home over the past year, there have been plenty of anecdotal reports of animals reclaiming their habitats or even extending their territory. The David Attenborough-narrated documentary The Year Earth Changed, which chronicled the profound changes in the natural world in 2020, featured penguins exploring pavements in Cape Town, deer returning to their ancient grazing patch in Nara, Japan, and a leopard staking its claim on terraces at a safari lodge.
For city dwellers, waking gently to the sound of birds chirping has been one of the few upsides of lockdown, when traffic noise was replaced by the calming consonance of nature. Being stuck in one place also gave people time to explore their immediate surroundings, seeking solace in urban parks or nearby nature reserves.
“I believe many people found that nature helped get them through the isolation that the pandemic has brought,” says Jackie Cestero, a local conservationist collaborating with Cap Juluca, a Belmond Hotel on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, to improve the resort’s sustainability initiatives. “Birdwatching, in particular, seems to be on the rise as a result of Covid-19. Many of our guests have noted they started birding during the pandemic and want to continue to explore birds when they visit Anguilla.”
The same is truly closer to home. “During lockdowns all over the world, people paid more attention to nature,” says Singapore-based Yong Ding Li, regional coordinator of the Global Flyways program for Birdlife International. “I know several people who started ‘backyard birding’, which is basically observing the species of birds in one’s backyard.”
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