Social media has gone crazy with images of swans and dolphins that have reportedly "returned" to the canals of Venice. What with severely limited human activity the air and water have started to become cleaner that usual. Wild animal activity has begun to change in some areas. Sadly these swans and dolphins are not part of this change. This pictures are not even from Venice.
Image via International Business TImes
The idea of these animals triumphing over man, and of mother nature beginning to heal while we are out of commission is a tantalizing thing. However, in this case, it just isn't true. Pictures of dolphins swimming are actually from the island of Sardinia, off the coast of Italy. The swans are at least a little closer to Venice. They are in the canals of the small island of Burano, a small island in the greater Venice metro area. Swans are often sighted there. For both of these incidents it is just animal business as usual.
Image via International Business Times
There have also been reports and photos of elephants that reportedly entered a village in Yunnan Province in China. There they allegedly got drunk on corn wine and then fell asleep in a field of tea. Again, not true. Elephants often pass through small villages in their travels. The photos of elephants in tea fields were from an unknown time and apparently not related to the story.
These social media offers of misinformation does not mean that urban wildlife is not being affected by the lack of human activity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Image via YouTube
Macaques in Lopburi, Thailand, are used to living the good life without having to forage for food. Their world has turned upside-down. Without hoards of tourists coming to feed them on a daily basis they are now running hungry. Check out the video below to see how they have turned into furry rioters over the find of a single banana.
This is why places like national parks and forests forbid the feeding of wildlife. When humans disappear so does their food supply and they may not have kept up their hunting and foraging skills like they would otherwise.
Where I live, in Boulder, Colorado, we have a plethora of wildlife that either live or make regular incursions into the city. We often have mice, rats, voles, rabbits, fox, raccoons, deer, coyotes, ducks, geese, skunks, and, of course, squirrels. We get the occasional bear encounter. The real concern is the presence of mountain lions.
Photo by Laurie Kay Olson
Mountain lions, also known as cougars, puma, and panthers, are not unknown in our fair city and we remain watchful for them. Those of us who understand their hunting patterns try to keep our pets indoors after sunset to keep them from becoming dinner. Where there is prey there will be predators.
Image via Laurie Kay Olson
My own neighborhood has often dealt with the big cats. Last month I found mountain lion paw prints in the snow in my garden just steps from my front door. That is nothing new here. Last week three young lions were seen hanging out together within a mile of my home. This is not so normal. Without the usual number of people and vehicles traveling the area they were more comfortable to explore. It looks like they are on a bike path that normally would be filled with joggers, bikes, hikers, and dog walkers.
What will happen when we reemerge into their world?