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We all remember the pictures of nature returning to cities as people went into lockdown.
Some were adorable.
Some were scary.
Some were fake.
Venice hasn’t seen clear canal water in a very long time. Dolphins showing up too. Nature just hit the reset button on us pic.twitter.com/RzqOq8ftCj
— Gianluca (@GSaintX) March 17, 2020
But all had the very real takeaway (and hilarious memes) that “nature is healing, people are the virus.” For a while, that was a serious sentiment. Animals were roaming, skies were clearing, and the earth was starting to look like an episode of Life After People – in a good way! It seemed as though people were learning from it. We can have cleaner air. Clear water is attainable.
Unfortunately, the lesson was short-lived. Some people chose to look at lockdowns as an opportunity for poaching, with animals being targeted in Asia, Africa, and South America (though surely smaller game is sought worldwide). With fewer people around to act as a deterrent, even just by virtue of being around and a possible witness, poaching is surging. We’ve already lost 2% of the Giant Ibis population during this pandemic, and that’s only counting the ones that we know about. With wildlife organizations working with skeleton crews, or no crews, there is no end in sight until tourists return.
But wait, there’s more!
Animals are not the only things suffering at the hands of opportunistic humans. Deforestation in the Amazon has reached a record high this year. That is a huge problem for every living thing – animals, plants, and people. While there are organizations in Brazil to protect the rainforest, Brazil has been hit hard by the coronavirus. This is especially problematic in Amazonas, the state with the most forest. It is one of the areas hardest hit by the virus. People fighting to survive a virus are ill-equipped to fight for the survival of the rainforest.
So what can we do? The same thing we can always do, only more. I’m sure you don’t buy rhino horn, but step up your resistance. In addition to not buying it, speak out against it and refute the claims made about its medicinal properties. We all need the Amazon to breathe. Donate to organizations fighting against deforestation. We saw how beautiful the earth can be if we let her. Stop littering, reduce your electrical usage, and maybe even petition your government to enact pro-earth policies.
There was a beautiful week during this pandemic where everyone was awed by nature. Don’t lose those lessons.
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