Wildlife gaining ground before the withdrawal of the human coronavirus | Science


Wild boars in Catalan towns and cities, peacocks in Madrid, a seal in San Sebastian or the mountain goats in the plaza de Chinchilla (Albacete). In social networks have been highlighted in the past few days, videos of wild animals straying into urban spaces. The streets, also the countryside and the mountainous areas, have been emptied since it was decreed a state of alert on march 14. Experts say that the containment measures to facilitate the expansion of the animals, but they add that these images were previously with some regularity. The difference is that the new scenario has become a unique opportunity to observe what is happening to the wildlife with the presence of the human being reduced to a minimum. “If until now formulábamos hypothesis, this year we will be able to study it on the ground”, explains Gerardo Baguena, the president of the Foundation for the Conservation of the Bearded vulture. Baguena advances that already have been detected positive aspects for this species in danger of extinction: “there are climbers, or paragliding, or helicopter, or anything. Only in the Central Pyrenees we estimate that we will have a record, in 25 years of monitoring, from chickens that they raise the flight. 22 we expect to go to 30”.

“If you disappear out of a place, the animals occupy that space, although, will be withdrawn when we come back,” says Angel M. Sanchez, director of the National Volunteer for the Census of the Iberian Wolf. Sanchez receives information that the wolf you are accessing the green areas frequented by humans. “We hope to have a greater success of reproduction because they have less discomfort”. In Almeria, the director of the association ecologist Rowan, Emilio Gonzalez, believes that this period can help the repopulation of the wild cat or of the bonelli’s eagle. Gonzalez alert, at the same time, that may result in adverse effects, as occurred with the economic crisis of 2008, which caused an increase in unemployment in the region. People had more free time and we had an increase of the hunting of the partridge, which decimated the number of eagles.

Experts warn that it is too soon to draw conclusions, but agree that “what is happening has a soothing effect,” says Roberto Hartasánchez, president of the Fund for the Protection of Wild Animals (FAPAS). Very committed to the western population of grizzly bear, Hartasánchez argues that “for the first time we are having an absolute peace of mind in areas of protected wildlife”. At the same time, ensure you have a record of the actions of poachers in Asturias because the services of forest guards are at a minimum.

“There are climbers, or paragliding, or helicopter, or anything”

The president of the Fundación Oso Pardo, Guillermo Palomero, tempering the optimism in regard to the plantigrade stance. “Three or four months are little time to study changes in the behavior of the animals. In addition, the livestock activity continues”. Last Tuesday it became viral a video of a young bear walking at night down a street of Ventanueva (Asturias). Popcorn highlights that these situations are not common but also not rare, though granted that they are alert to the possibility that other young specimens are closer to urban cores where the garbage cans are left open or are not collecting on a regular basis.

In the National Park of the Sierra de Guadarrama, one of the busiest in Spain, there is no noise, nor people, nor pass planesstand out from the interpretation centre located in Peñalara. “It is certain that the stress of the environment has improved a lot, besides that the ground is not trampled and that is fundamental to the growth of the plants and promote pollinators”, explained. The tranquility is reflected in the american mink –an invasive species– which now, without visitors, is about to the ponds of the research center without any fear and the roe deer that roam free.

Ernesto Alvarez, president of GREFA (Group for the Rehabilitation of the Indigenous Fauna and its Habitat), confirms that “the simple hiking, bicycles, or people in training, everything has disappeared”. “This makes that we are seeing in the field more pairs of birds of prey, mustelids, mammals or herbivores. As an example, puts the eagle of Bonelli or bonelli: “we Believe that the chickens of the five or six pairs that bred in Madrid, in rural areas, are going to have more chances of coming out ahead.” Especially one of the couples who has decided to breed in the cup of a singular tree which is very busy. “We have had to narrow the space, in addition to having surveillance. Now all of that has simplified and are quiet, brooding.”

Experts warn that it is too soon to draw conclusions, but agree that “what is happening has a soothing effect”

The environmental organization WWF has not yet been able to analyze changes in the habits of the species they monitor, such as the iberian lynx, or in marine fauna. Manuel Bou, researcher of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, notes that the effects of the reduction of the marine traffic can be seen in the future, although it ruled out that the underwater noise “will decrease considerably” because the transport of goods continues. WWF is considering the hypothesis that the griffon vulture in Montejo de la Vega (Segovia), where she has a project for this threatened species, see benefited by the reduction of the human presence, but is also expected to hurt restaurants in the region have been closed and there is less carrion to feed them. For WWF it is a question of the possible changes that may occur in the habits of the iberian lynx. Javier Salcedo, coordinator in Andalusia for the Life Project for the lynx, does not believe that there are great variations, because it already dwells in sparsely populated areas and because farming and ranching continue to be active.

“People are discovering that in the city live animals”

“People are discovering that in the city live animals”, explains Elena Moreno, of the conservationist association of Seville Ecourbe. This organization has initiated a project of citizen collaboration in the already involved 70 people, to contribute photographs and recordings of birds that you observe during the quarantine period. Moreno puts as an example the mallard, a duck that lives in lakes and which has been seen in gardens and roundabouts of Seville. Also want to determine if it changes the behavior of dependent species of the human being, as the sparrowand if the greater intensity of the singing of birds detected is due to the drastic reduction of the noise pollution.

“Animals do not distinguish between nature and the urban environment, at the minimum, a window opens, they will take the opportunity to explore”, says Alejandro Martínez Abraín, professor of Ecology at the Universidade da Coruña. A process that leads to snowballing decades, “since they started to leave the field.” Abraín appreciates that the species is coming increasingly to the urban core looking for resources that in many cases are wasted and that they are a source of food.

“The wildlife is already here, it is another thing to see it”, stresses Francisco Garcia, the Follow-up Group of the Biodiversity of the Universidad Complutense, who is going through confinement with a telescope installed on the terrace. Lives in Madrid, near the House of Field, and that is allowing it to observe the passage of hawks, a goshawk, eagles roads, cormorants, and see how the kestrel that nests in the pots from under her bedroom eats a pigeon on the balcony opposite.

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