Endangered species and wildlife reserves see hampered attentiveness during COVID-19 lockdowns


According to NBC News, some endangered species around the world, and the wildlife reserves that they reside at, are in danger due to the spread of COVID-19 and the lockdowns the virus has caused. These lockdowns have caused many scientists and caregivers unable to maintain the connection needed with the endangered species they are working with. For example, Biologist Carlos Ruiz and his team have been working to save the endangered golden lion tamarins. But, Ruiz and his team have been prohibited from working with the tamarins due to being quarantined and the closing of the national parks to both tourists and researchers. “We are worried about missing the window of opportunity to save the species,” said Ruiz, the president of the Golden Lion Tamarin Association. ~

In addition to endangered species being at risk, wildlife reserves are also at risk due to illegal activity and lack of funding. While no one is in the park, rainforests and other national parks are at risk of illegal exploitation. In Guatemala, indigenous communities that monitor rainforests are struggling to contain wildfires set by people to open space for illegal cattle ranching, noted Erick Cuellar, deputy director of the Asociación de Comunidades Forestales de Petén. In Nepal, forest-related crimes like illegal logging have more than doubled since lockdowns began, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Lockdowns due to COVID-19 have also derailed the eco-tourism that funds many environmental projects. In many countries, wildlife tourism provides significant income to maintain parks where vulnerable species such as elephants, lions, rhinos, and giraffes live. But after COVID-19 struck, “the entire international tourism sector basically closed down overnight in March,” said Peter Fearnhead, the CEO of nonprofit African Parks (LA Times). ~

Scientists worry that these endangered species and wildlife will not be able to survive this lockdown, because according to Fearnhead, “A protected area that is not being actively managed will be lost” (Star Tribune). Other scientists have a similar mindset to tropical biologist Patricia Wright, who said “We [just] have to get through this year” (NBC). ~

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