They do not necessarily need us but we need them.
Wildlife had a well-deserved rest
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 animals who are so dependent on us and have seen a lot more of their owners during this period and may be shocked at normality again.
There have been numerous news reports from all parts of the world of timid species being emboldened to explore and venture into territory that was out of bounds just weeks before because of less human activity and even roaming the urban areas. And road kills lessened at an opportune time in many parts of the world for the spring breeding season. There have already been reports of more hedgehogs in the UK this year.
Unfortunately for them it may not take long for the normality to resume and they will be pushed back into their small enclaves and run the gauntlet of human contact. 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 have become 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.
Bears in U.S. national parks were 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. Lions in Kruger national park also took the opportunity to roam freely and sleep wherever they pleased and enjoyed some peace and quiet even taking a nap on the park roads without being surrounded by hordes of tourist vehicles.
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.