Special Edition: Traveling After COVID-19

Jenna: Welcome back to Creature Feature News, folks! AJ and I took some extra time to research and discuss a relevant and important topic for this new edition. As COVID-19 swept through the entire world, tourism, much like almost every other industry, can to a halt. Now, after months of social distancing and isolating in place, the itch to travel has become too much to bear for some. As we venture out again, there are a few things to keep in mind and reflect upon. First, COVID-19 has not disappeared, and safety measures should still be used. Secondly, many animals have benefited from just our brief absence and collective cease in travel. In this special edition, we will be exploring how we can learn from animals that have flourished without our presence and how we can begin to travel again in an even more animal-welfare conscious manner. 

AJ: An increasing number of stories are highlighting that animals are increasingly appearing in places that used to be packed with people. Chris Packham explains in this video by BBC that we must intentionally consider the nature around us, as we deal with the impact of COVID-19. Animals are more visibly prevalent than ever, and the lack of human interference has relaxed some animals who are now coming out of hiding. A simple walk around your local outdoor areas can introduce you to some wildlife you never met before. Packam calls on us to ethically and responsibly engage with our environment but also remember that these animals are now used to humans self-isolating away from the animals’ habitats. 

Jenna: Here are some examples of how animals are benefiting from the conditions COVID-19 has presented around the world. Humpback whale moms and calves in Hawaii seem to be appreciating less boat traffic and human interaction, as noted by Star Advertiser. Canals in Venice appear clearer and cleaner, shown in this article by Insider, due to decreased boat traffic which typically stirs up sediment in the canals. Similarly, as seen in this Newsweek piece, the Rímac River in Peru has also become clearer, as pollution from waste in the river has dramatically declined. According to The Guardian, pangolins, highly trafficked species in Asia and Africa, may benefit from COVID-19, because animal trafficking has been addressed in conversations and lawmaking regarding future pandemic prevention. Additionally, animals of the Yosemite National Park have drifted into more areas that were previously more dominated by human visitors. The Hill has reported that black bears and mountain coyotes have become a more common sighting by people still living and working on the park. CNN highlighted a family of about eight lions lounging in a road that would usually be occupied by tourist vehicles. Another CNN article shared the story of wild goats in Wales meandering around a would-be bustling town. 

AJ: These increased sightings of animals may and likely will lead to increased human-animal interaction. Here is a resource from the InterEnvironmental Institute and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to reference and review before making your way back to traveling. IUCN is dedicated to providing helpful guidelines to follow while interacting with animals and promoting conservation with urban and rural areas. IUCN is always updating their information to keep up with the fast changes taking place in the world today. Their helpful guides include how to deal with encountering wild animals roaming around your neighborhood to ways that you can promote environmental growth in your community.

Jenna: While we review how a lack of tourism has benefited animals, it is also important to consider another viewpoint. Conservation International has provided a detailed article about the effects of COVID-19 on the natural world. With a different perspective, Conservation International does not believe the virus has necessarily been a “break for nature.” The article explains how many illegal mining operations have started tearing up the Earth, and poaching has become hard to regulate. In a similar piece, by National Geographic, wildlife in Kenya has become increasingly threatened by poaching, as tourism revenue has already led to some strenuous budget cuts for animal conservation programs. CNBC has also reported on the same topic that the poaching of rhinos in Africa has increased, because there are less “eyes” watching out for illegal hunting and trapping. 

AJ: Additional sources also have found that COVID-19 closures and declines in tourism have severe negative impacts on animals. The Globe and Mail highlighted how the lack of tourism revenue has left environmental resources and animals unprotected. Sustainability and conservation experts are quoted throughout the article, with the piece ending with a call for future tourists to research how to use their trips to leave a positive impact before actually returning to travel. This article from theRising contains similar ideas – that this halt in travel has had some significant benefits, but animals largely benefit from the tourism industry. 

Jenna: Now, it looks like travel will not be halted much longer and has already begun to increase. BBC Travel has provided some suggestions and recommendations for becoming more eco-friendly travelers moving forward. National Geographic provides a more general guide to ethical tourism activities involving animals here. Fanimal founder, Carol Kline, wrote a similar guide in her blog post with JourneyWoman. While this guide is not specific to COVID-19, it is still important to consider the provided guidelines. Lastly, World Animal Protection is a great resource that highlights how we can learn from the pandemic to create and demand more animal-friendly tourism. 

AJ: We want to hear from you! If you have resources or articles on this topic that you would like to be shared through Fanimal and Creature Feature News, please email it to hello@fanimal.co. See you next week with more animal news.  

COVID-19 & Animals in Tourism News Articles: 

The coronavirus pandemic has halted tourism, and animals are benefiting from it from The Washington Post

‘Filthy bloody business:’ Poachers kill more animals as coronavirus crushes tourism to Africa from CNBC

COVID-19 Has Taken Tourism Down, But Animal Conservation Is Going Down With It from theRising

Poaching threats loom as wildlife safaris put on hold due to COVID-19 from National Geographic 

Coronavirus: Animals around the world benefit from drop in tourism from Independent 

As coronavirus wipes out tourism, wildlife rules Yosemite again from The Hill

The coronavirus will change how we travel. That will probably be good for us. from NBC News

Lions lounge on road in Kruger National Park during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown from CNN

Wild goats take over Welsh town amid coronavirus lockdown from CNN

Coronavirus-fuelled tourism meltdown yields pros and cons for conservation from The Globe and Mail

Threatened Wildlife Makes a Comeback to Thailand’s Waters Amid Tourist Drought from Skift

With tourism on furlough, Hawaii’s whales are enjoying some needed rest from constant scrutiny from Star Advertiser

COVID-19 lockdown allows researchers to quantify the effects of human activity on wildlife from Nature Ecology & Evolution

Coronavirus: Chris Packham on Covid-19’s impact on nature from BBC

Impact of COVID-19 on Nature from Conservation International

Conserving Nature in a time of crisis: Protected Areas and COVID-19 from International Union for Conservation of Nature

Satellite images show clear Venice canals during coronavirus lockdown from Insider 

The collapse of tourism and its impact on wildlife tourism destinations from Emerald Insight

IUCN WCPA Urban Conservation Strategies Specialist Group from InterEnvironmental Institute

How can we be sustainable post-Covid 19? from BBC Travel

Tips for responsible wildlife tourism from National Geographic

Practicing Responsible Animal-Based Tourism: Guidelines for Ethical Travel from JourneyWoman

Travel back better from World Animal Protection

Covid-19 – a blessing for pangolins? | Environment from The Guardian 

5 ways the coronavirus is affecting animals around the world from World Economic Forum

The coronavirus pandemic has halted tourism, and animals are benefiting from it from The Washington Post

Coronavirus lockdown gives animals rare break from noise pollution from Deutsche Welle

Photo credit to Brent Jones from Unsplash 

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