The global lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 spread has also presented scientists with a unique opportunity, of studying the impact of human activity on wildlife. In an article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, an international team of scientists announced the formation of a ‘COVID-19 Bio-Logging Initiative’. The aim is to probe animal movement, stress levels, and behavior before, during, and after the global lockdown. They will be using tracking devices known as bio-loggers for this purpose.
Many wildlife and animal researchers use such trackers to gather data. The team already has access to 200 datasets for analysis. The findings so far have shown some interesting and unexpected results. One of these outcomes can be seen on social media where people are sharing the unexpected sighting of wild animals like a puma in urban areas. Reduction of pollution and human interference would mean the free movement of animals in wild areas and oceans, points the article.
However, some species also face challenges. This is particularly true for urban animals such as gulls, rats, and monkeys who have come to rely on food discarded or fed by humans for survival. In some places, humans are flocking to green areas in their city, disturbing animal life with increased activity. There are also concerns over increased poaching. The economic impact of the lockdown has elevated the possibility of increased exploitation of natural resources.
Finally, the researchers called for a coordinated approach form the international community for continued study post-lockdown. This could eventually help us to design better human-wildlife policies.