SCATTERED AMID A relentless barrage of news about COVID-19 case surges, quarantine orders, and medical supply shortages on Twitter this week, some happy stories softened the blows: Swans had returned to deserted Venetian canals. Dolphins too. And a group of elephants had sauntered through a village in Yunnan, China, gotten drunk off corn wine, and passed out in a tea garden.
These reports of wildlife triumphs in countries hard-hit by the novel coronavirus got hundreds of thousands of retweets. They went viral on Instagram and Tik Tok. They made news headlines. If there’s a silver lining of the pandemic, people said, this was it—animals were bouncing back, running free in a humanless world.
Wherever you go in Britain – in city, town or country – you can come across a hidden wildlife haven. It may be home to sand lizards and stoats, adders and orchids, butterflies and bush-crickets, water voles, peregrine falcons, or great crested grebes.
Yet often these oases are not official nature reserves, but little scraps of land we rarely consider important for nature. Churchyards, roadside verges, railway cuttings and disused quarries may not appear to have much in common. But they were all originally created for humans’ needs, before becoming places where wild creatures thrive. Together, they add up to an area larger than all our official nature reserves combined.
The New South Wales Forestry Corporation has continued to log unburnt forest that is habitat for some of the most imperilled species in the aftermath of the state’s bushfire crisis.
Logging operations have continued in the Styx River state forest on the north coast that is now remnant habitat for endangered species including the greater glider and the Hastings River mouse.
Both the federal and state governments have identified the mouse, which had 82% of its habitat burnt, as one of the species most at risk of extinction as a result of the bushfire disaster.
Two extremely rare white giraffes have been killed by poachers in north-eastern Kenya, conservationists say.
Rangers had found the carcasses of the female and her calf in a village in north-eastern Kenya’s Garissa County.
A third white giraffe is still alive. It is thought to be the only remaining one in the world, the conservationists added.
Their white appearance is due to a rare condition called leucism, which causes skin cells to have no pigmentation.
From Russia and Finland to Canada and the US, there’s been multiple sightings of bears around the world.
That might not sound too weird – but bears aren’t normally spotted this early in the year, which makes this pretty unusual.
They usually stay in hibernation – which is like a deep sleep that helps them to save energy – and survive the winter without eating much.
But Europe has just had its hottest ever winter – and the US also experienced warmer temperatures in December and January – which has been linked to climate change.
Last year, Botswana legalized hunting of elephants as ‘there are too many of them’. The government officially lifted the hunting suspension.
More than half a year later, the country is going to auction licences to hunt a total of 70 elephants, in a bid to ‘end human-wildlife conflict’. This will be the first such hunt to take place since President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted the five-year hunting ban last year.