What became completely apparent during the recent worldwide Covid-19 lockdowns is that wildlife would not miss us at all if humanity was to suddenly disappear or reduce drastically in numbers. Wildlife appeared to enjoy this brief hiatus from us finding they could wander freely, unhindered and safe from interruption. They quickly decided to invade our space instead of the other way round. There is probably a great irony somewhere in all this.
Of course, it is a different story for companion pets who have seen a lot more of us and are so dependent on us and may be shocked by normality again.
Although we set aside large swathes of land in the name of conserving animals and habitat and give them such impressive names as national parks, reserves and conservation areas, in reality they are just giant adventure playgrounds for us to enjoy mountain biking, hiking, picnicking, rock climbing, kayaking and any other pursuit we can think up with no consideration given to the disturbance to the animals. Far from being safety zones for them we increasingly invade these spaces, and if they should dare to retaliate by attacking us, we kill them.
But wildlife is now getting a well deserved rest from us. Bears in U.S. national parks are able to roam freely and unhindered without having to take detours round vehicles and camp sites and they do not have to worry about confronting humans. Rangers have reported a huge increase in bear and wildlife sightings and stated that the bears are “partying” in Yosemite national park.
More timid species are being emboldened to explore and venture into territory that was out of bounds just weeks ago because of human activity and even roam the urban areas. And road kills will no doubt diminish which is good news during the spring breeding season.
Lions in Kruger national park are also taking the opportunity to roam freely and sleep wherever they pleas and enjoy some peace and quiet even taking a nap on the park roads without being surrounded by hordes of tourist vehicles.
No they are not dead but enjoying downtime undisturbed by hordes of tourists.
They do not necessarily need us, but we need them.
Hopefully somewhere in all this there might be a salutary lesson to us perhaps even making us appreciate nature more and an understanding that animals require their space and freedom just like us. Perhaps we should even give some serious thought to whose benefit many of these preserved areas are truly for and put restrictions on the ultimate predator from entering them.