Other States

Lockdown enables wildlife claim their territory across India

A herd of spotted deer on the road to Tirupati. Twitter/@susantananda3  

Walking around the Dighalipukhuri, meaning ‘Long lake’, was a regular morning habit for retired bureaucrat Rajib Prakash Baruah until the 21-day countrywide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic began from March 24 midnight.

He couldn’t quite recall seeing the kharali haanh (lesser whistling duck) wading in the lake when an acquaintance with a better view from the windows of his house reported a flock on Friday.

“We were used to seeing several species of local and migratory waterfowl in Dighalipukhuri when we were young. They have returned after decades possibly because there aren’t any humans around to interfere because of the lockdown,” said Kailash Sarma, a cultural activist who lives beside the Jorpukhuri (Twin lakes), a few metres east of Dighalipukhuri.

“If boating and recreational activities in and around the lake are restricted, the ducks might keep coming,” said Bibhav Talukdar, who heads the green NGO Aaranyak.

A Malabar large spotted civet on the road — Critically endangered with fewer than 250 matured individuals. Endemic to western ghats, not seen since 1990 surfaced at Kozhikode during present lockdown. Twitter/@susantananda3

A Malabar large spotted civet on the road — Critically endangered with fewer than 250 matured individuals. Endemic to western ghats, not seen since 1990 surfaced at Kozhikode during present lockdown. Twitter/@susantananda3  

 

He, however, said Guwahati has always had a ‘wild’ side with the city recording some 200 species of mammals. This is because it is woven around 11 forest reserves, several wetlands including a Ramsar site and hills.

Instances of animals venturing out into human habitations have also been reported elsewhere in Assam. A one-horned rhino ambled to Sonapur town, east of Guwahati, from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, 28 km away. Officials said it was probably because the animal did not face any human obstacles en route.

In western Assam’s Barpeta town, residents have been hearing the howls of the rare black fox more frequently than in the past. One was spotted during the day too.

 

“Animals once used to roam these areas. If they could undertake an exercise like the NRC [National Register of Citizens], we might all have been ejected and our homes dismantled for the trees to grow again,” said Dhanjit Das, a resident of the town.

Twitter users have uploaded photos and videos of animals in urban spaces across India. For instance, a video showed a small Indian civet on the streets of Kozhikode, Kerala that forest officials said could be sick after release from captivity.

The number of some familiar animals such as the sambar, a large deer, in places like Chandigarh and Haridwar has increased. There have been reports of elephants making more forays into urban areas in Assam, Uttarakhand and southern India.

Wildlife officials have called out many fake tweets too. “Friends, I really like to see nature reclaiming old territory. And also appreciate people’s new love for nature in times of novel coronavirus,” said Parveen Kaswan, an Indian Forest Service officer in one of his tweets.

“Spreading positivity is one thing. Dumbing down society is another,” he said in another tweet, adding that reclaiming nature needs more than just lockdowns.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 11:28:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/lockdown-enables-wildlife-claim-their-territory-across-india/article31191594.ece

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