COVID-19: Impacts on Water and Biodiversity

The series of lockdown imposed worldwide has helped water sources heal to some extent and animals have got chance to flourish.

To mitigate the health and associated impacts of COVID-19, there were series of lockdowns in many cities, countries and even globally. Due to this, the water sources have healed to some extent. Aquatic animals have got a chance to flourish. With less pollution and clear water mesmerizing views of Mt. Machhapuchhre and Mt. Annapurna are seen on the surface of Phewa Lake (Kantipur Television, 2020). Also, the birds in the lake premises have reappeared.

Phewa Lake looks more beautiful during lockdown (Times of India, 2020)

Similarly, the water quality of the Yamuna River in India has improved by 33% at Agra canal. This is due to reduction of pollutant load from commercial and industrial sectors and the water now seems fit for bathing (The Hindustan Times, 2020).

Yamuna River before (2018) and after (2020) lockdown (Washington Post, 2020)

In Central Zoo, Kathmandu, the animals have shown changed behaviours from lockdown. Apes and Monkeys were upset as they lacked the friend to play with. Whereas the Tiger, Leopard and Bears which used to hide in the daytime, have begun to appear. And globally, flora are saved from cutting. Bees, butterflies, bugs are happy from survival of plants. Birds are enjoying lesser noise (BBC, 2020).
On the other hand, illegal trade of wild flora and fauna have increased. Three endangered gharial crocodiles were killed in Chitwan National Park, one Elephant was injured in Bardia National Park and six Musk Deer were killed in Sagarmatha National Park (Nepali Time, 2020). And stray animals may die of hunger these days (Shrestha, 2020).

Illegal hunting of Musk Deer (Nepali Times, 2020)

COVID-19 is just one of its kind. According to the World Economic Forum, there are 1.7 million unidentified viruses which can infect humans in mammals and water birds. Deforestation, agricultural expansion, etc. can bring us closer to them. Countries should strengthen environmental regulations to decision making that recognizes complex interconnections among the health of people, animals, plants and our shared environment. We can build back better and emerge from the crisis stronger and resilient than ever-by choosing policies and actions that protect nature so that nature can help to protect us.

Amber Thapa

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