Wild animals flourish during the anthropause

Seahorse

The “anthropause” is a word which has been coined by scientists to mean a pause or slowing in human activity. The coronavirus pandemic’s lockdowns has paused routine human activity both in respect of work and play. This pause has given wild animals a breather. It appears to have given them more space, more peace, less disturbance, less noise and less interference by humans which has allowed them to flourish. Their behaviour has changed and humankind should learn from it. I regret to say that they won’t but they should.

Seahorse

Seahorse. Photo: PAUL LOTT/SEAHORSE TRUST

The seahorse in the waters of Studland Bay in Dorset, UK is an example. A person who studies seahorses, Neil Garrick-Maidment has discovered that the seahorses in this bay have come back in much larger numbers since the lockdown. He and his team from the Seahorse Trust saw a total of 16 endangered spiny seahorses in May which is the largest number since they began monitoring the site in 2008.

In four subsequent dives they recorded another 30 seahorses in the bay. They found none during 20 dives in the same place last year and one in 2018. He puts the recovery down to, “the great human pause”. The temporary slowdown in human activity as people stayed home.

The problem for the seahorses in Studland Bay is that it is normally crowded with up to 350 leisure boats in May. Their engine noise disturbs marine life. Their anchors tear up the seabed and the seagrass which seahorses use as their habitat for shelter, breeding and feeding.

There are numerous other examples of animals flourishing because humans have got out of their way. It confirms what I have said over many years. Humans are pushing animals of the planet with their activities. They are destroying the habitat of wild species. Climate change is damaging wild animals and of course humans. The Amazon rainforest is being burned down to make way for plantations. The newspapers reported something in the order of 2,500 separate fires deliberately started. It is quite shocking. This is the home of many wild species and humankind needs these trees to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen.

Because there is no possibility of the human race curbing their propensity to procreate in the developing world humankind has to find some sort of compromise in order to accommodate wildlife while still entertaining themselves and growing the economy.

I have read that the human population is stabilising in the developed world and may decrease in the not too distant future. This appears to be a natural human process. Birth rates in developing countries are higher than in developed countries because of a lack of access to contraceptives and a lower level of female education. Also children are needed for labour and to provide care for their parents in old age. In developed countries it is a lifestyle choice to have a lower fertility rate. One reason is because children are an economic drain.

Perhaps then we can look forward to a time in 100 years or more when humankind may have found a balance with the other species on the planet. Although it may be too late by then.