How some endangered species are benefiting from reduced human activity
There are more endangered species now than ever before in modern history. According to the 2019 IPBES report, one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction—many within decades, thanks to unsustainable human activity.
Thanks to new regulations amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, some endangered animals are benefiting from reduced human activity. Due to a lack of travel, there’s been a reduction of carbon emissions and pollution around the globe. Seismologists have also reported lower vibrations from “cultural noise”. These factors create safer environments for endangered species.
“It’s too soon to tell if specific endangered species have experienced a real rebound in terms of overall population numbers due to shifts in human activity. We’ll only be able to tell this over time. The species taking advantage of things like stay at home orders generally are not endangered species, but rather wildlife that already coexists with humans,” says Rolf Skar, Greenpeace USA Deputy Campaigns Director.
While the long-term impact of reduced human activity amid COVID-19 on endangered species is unknown, there have been a few examples of behavioral changes and the introduction of legislation that may benefit certain animals.
Sea turtles in Thailand
Vulnerable leatherback sea turtles are coming ashore to lay eggs on the beaches in the typically overrun tourist destination Phuket, Thailand. Leatherbacks were classified as protected species under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act in 1992 and were elevated to the more critical status of preserved in 2019. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Thailand has seen the largest number of nests of leatherback sea turtles in two decades.
Sharks in Indonesia
There are 470 known shark species, 25 of which are listed as endangered. In Indonesia, endangered sharks are benefitting from the cessation of the fishing industry due to COVID-19. Indonesia has the world’s highest diversity of sharks including endangered scalloped hammerhead, sawfish, whale shark, oceanic white-tip shark, and the vulnerable bigeye thresher shark. West Nusa Tenggara, the leader of the country’s shark fishing industry, reported a 68 percent trade drop in the first quarter of 2020.
Pangolins in China
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal which has made them endangered. There are four types of the species in Asia, three are endangered and one is critically endangered. After the outbreak of COVID-19, China banned the trade and consumption of pangolins for food on February 24th which resulted in wild animal markets across the country being shut down. It’s too soon to measure the impact the ban will have on pangolins but it’s likely they’ll be less threatened by humans due to the new legislation.
Bees in The United Kingdom
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists 16 species of bees as vulnerable, 18 as endangered, and 9 as critically endangered globally. Bees in the United Kingdom are benefitting from the reduction of grass being mowed in public and private landscaping areas resulting in more wildflowers blooming which is great for pollinators such as bees.
Lions in South Africa
Kruger National Park has been closed since March 25th and vulnerable lions are enjoying the empty park and reduction of human activity by lazing around on paved roads. Kruger Park's Skukuza Golf Course has also been a hotspot for lion hangouts. Kruger National Park continues to monitor security, emergency services, and wildlife crime operations to protect species within the park such as lions.
COVID-19 Isn’t a respite for all endangered species
The benefit of reduced human activity isn’t evenly distributed across the animal kingdom. Many rely on humans for protection, conservation, and preservation. At African wildlife reserves, many endangered animals such as elephants and rhinos are at-risk without having rangers to protect them from poachers. Governments are focused on public health thus leaving gaps in law enforcement in protected areas.
To continue to protect endangered species you can pick up trash and dispose of it properly on daily walks if they’re allowed in your area. Never buy anything made from an endangered species such as coral, ivory, and turtle shell products. Tweet your representatives about the importance of the Endangered Species Act when bills are being considered that may negatively impact local fauna. Educate yourself by taking a complimentary online National Geographic Exploring Conservation course on ocean conservation, illegal wildlife trade, and more. Skar recommends advocating for bans against the trade of endangered species and wildlife and for stricter enforcement of the bans.
6 Ways You Can Travel From Home This Summer
Did COVID-19 postpone or cancel your summer travel or study abroad plans? As someone who had 2020 branded as her ‘Year of Travel” for the past 3 years—I feel you. When or if international travel will return to “normal” is undetermined as of yet. But, life goes on! So instead of dwelling on what could have been, here are some ideas on how to keep your travel spirit of mind alive while at home. 1.) Decorate your space. If you’re indoors all day for something reason, be sure to surround yourself with images of you traveling in the past, where you want to go in the future, and things you’d like to manifest into your life. Printed off your favorite Instagram travel photos and pin them up, or change the background of your computer and your cellphone. Your bedroom, your office, your kitchen. Inundate yourself with inspiration, positive memories, colorful photos, quotes, and everything else travels related that puts you in that global state of mind. 2. Adventure, virtually! Go on Google Flights (ah, these cheap prices!) and pretend to book something. Now go on Airbnb or Booking.com and decide where you want to stay. The budget is no worry because this is, of course, imaginary. You’ve landed. Yay! What do you want to do? Depending on where you’ve decided to mentally venture, you might go on a virtual museum tour like that of The Louvre in Paris or Tate’s Modern in London. Sip some wine, close your eyes, put on a “grass” or “summer breeze” candle, and imagine yourself exploring that city, going back to that stunning Airbnb with a jacuzzi and a view, and planning for the future. 3.) Explore locally… distantly. While international travel might be one huge question mark, it’s no question that American cities are slowly beginning to dip their toes into reopening (some, more quickly than others…) When your region’s lock-down orders are lifting, try to find ways to see your local community in a new light. Drive through that neighbor with beautiful houses you can't afford. Drive through the wilderness with a friend or family member, take a socially distanced sunset hike. No matter where you live, there’s a high chance you haven’t seen every there is to see within walking or driving distance of you. Look into it! 4.) Become part of your bucket list—start your own Airbnb experience! If you’re the #1 expert on everything about your home town, a certain topic, or you have an extraordinary, teachable skill—share it with the world! Invite people from across the globe into your passions and your home via an interactive online experience. It will help you feel like you’re traveling because you can consistently be meeting new people, asking people what interests them about your destination or topic, researching, and most importantly, entertaining and connecting with beautiful cultures and personalities. And of course, the best part is actually making money doing this! Win, win! 5.) Create the ambiance in your own home! Flights to Paris might be on pause, but you can bring a little je ne sais quoi into your own home with a little creativity and planning. Create an ambiance for whatever country you’re trying to embody. For a Latin night in Puerto Rico turn on some salsa music, make some homemade salsa and guacamole, and YouTube some dance moves. For a night in Paris create your own charcuterie board, try a new wine, and watch Amelie. I highly suggest checking out the tourism board’s website for whichever country you’re trying to channel, because now more than ever they’ll have exciting, education, virtual resources available to you. 6.) Join online travel communities If you’re seriously short on time and funds you can get your travel fix completely online! Join one of the many travel Facebook groups, follow some awesome travel bloggers on Instagram, and join in on #TravelTuesday Twitter threads. Just get involved in the travel talk! This way when you finally are free to travel as you want you’ll be chock full of ideas and maybe have some new travel buds.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home with these amazing cocktail recipes
Translated to the 5th of May, Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over France during the Franco-Mexican war in 1862. Also known as Battle of Puebla Day, it is just a minor holiday in Mexico, but here in the US, it has become a celebration of Mexican-American culture and community. Normally, there would be a network of national parties and celebrations, with the largest festivities in San Antonio, New York, Phoenix, Denver and San Diego. But, with social distancing as the new norm, we asked the experts how to make the most of the situation—and how to party like it’s the 5th of May in your very own home. At Mexico’s Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, the 1826 Tequila Bar offers over 120 different tequilas and 20 mezcals—and does tastings on their outdoor terrace. For a little sweeter cocktail, try its Lavender Margarita. Lavender Margarita 2 tablespoons of lavender syrup 1 oz tequila .5 oz lime juice .5 oz of Controy. Lavender Margarita.Sofia Partida, National Brand Ambassador of Mexico’s Partida Tequila, is organizing a face time “Cinco Salud” with friends and family in Northern California. She will also host a Cinco Happy Hour at home where they will be playing Loteria and watching a movie like Nacho Libre or Like Water for Chocolate. Decorations will include flowers, both paper and fresh, and the menu will include appetizers like Shrimp Aqua Chiles and mini Chicken Tostadas. Her cocktail of choice is the Ponche Cabellero. Ponche Cabellero 2 oz Reposado 1.5 oz tamarind nectar 1.5 oz pineapple juice .5 oz agave nectar .5 oz fresh lime juice 2 dashes of Angostura bitters. On the other end of the spectrum, Desolas is a brand new Mezcal crafted in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, wants to add a little spice to its Cinco de Mayo cocktail, which they suggest countering with chips and guacamole. They also suggest pairing their Spotify playlist with your at-home party. Desolas Sol 2 oz Desolas Mezcal 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice 1 oz ginger beer garnished with a lime wheel. Desolas SolThe MGM Resorts Event Production Team suggests finding a special place in your home, either indoors or outdoors, to be the hub of the celebration. Decorations can be a colorful scarf to drape on the table or hang up on the wall and you might want to search up a streaming folklorico dance class or discover new music contributed by Mexican artists for ambiance and entertainment. Try a tequila tasting at home and allow each taster to rate and review their findings before the next public gathering. However, if it’s a cocktail you’re after, try the Dama Blanca from the Mama Rabbit Bar at the Park MGM Las Vegas. Dama Blance 2 ozs Ilegal Joven Mezcal, .5 oz Italicus Bergamot liqueur .5 oz orange cordial .5 oz simple syrup .5 oz lemon juice .5 oz lime juice an egg white. Shake, pour in a coupe glass and garnish with real flowers for a beautiful finish. Rosewood Hotels are used to celebrating Cinco de Mayo at many of their properties. At the Dallas-based Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, The Mansion Bar has been a steadfast icon since its opening in 1980 and it’s renowned Texas Margarita has been on the menu for four decades. Texas Margarita 2 oz tequila 1 oz fresh lime juice .75 oz Cointreau up to .75 oz jalapeno agave. Shake and pour straight up. For many of us, the word Tequila is synonymous with Patron. This iconic brand has been bringing us super sippable, premium expressions from that famous region for over 30 years. So, it only seems right to mix a Patron Classic Margarita. The only thing you’ll have to decide is: salt or no salt? Patron Classic Margarita 1.5 oz of Patron Reposada or Silver 1 oz Patron Citronge Orange .75 oz fresh lime juice .25 oz simple syrup Shake and pour into a glass (ice optional). Lastly, for those who want to add a little caffeine to their cocktail cause, Mr. Black Liqueur is a bittersweet blend of vodka and coffee. A simple way to enjoy it at home is part of this eye-opening, Paloma Negra. Paloma Negra 2 oz coffee liqueur .75 oz Mezcal 1.25 oz pink grapefruit juice Paloma Negra
Spend some time on the sand watching these beach web cams
With beachside vacations being put on hold with coronavirus-related closures, there’s an alternative way to access sand and surf – right from your screen. Across United States, the nation’s beaches are being represented on screen from coast to coast. Embrace these picturesque views across the United States through these web cams. In California, view Doran Beach in Bodega Bay’s Doran National Park in Sonoma County beach. Torrance Beach’s webcam captures this 1.5 mile stretch of sand. Meanwhile in Monterey County, the Tickle Pink Inn in Carmel keeps a camera’s eye on the Big Sur Coastline. In San Diego, the landmark Hotel del Coronado shows off its sandy scene online. On Visit California’s website, take a 360 degree VR experience along California’s North Coast Beaches; catch more of the Golden State’s beaches through LiveBeaches.com. Wisconsin’s Madeline Island, the largest of the state’s Apostle Islands, is home to the two-mile Big Bay Beach along with Big Bay State Park. In South Carolina, see different parts of Myrtle Beach through this EarthCam plus Edisto Beach on Edisto Island can be seen through video too. In Virginia Beach, view various filming angles of this coastal city, including its boardwalk, along with the waterside community of Sandbridge. The Wildwoods, NJ lights up with nine cameras throughout this five-mile island capturing its boardwalks and beaches. Also, find different feeds of the Jersey Shore beaches, from Asbury Park to Atlantic City and Cape May. Other Jersey beaches range from Jenkinson’s Point Pleasant Beach to Bay Head. Long Island, New York has live cameras on locations, including Long Beach, with its 2.2-mile boardwalk; Main Beach in East Hampton; Coopers Beach in Southampton; and Fire Island. Florida has their beaches covered and can be seen through the Visit Florida website. However, their respective regions are also showing their sand off. Paradise Coast is experiencing cameras across Naples and Marco Island, while The Palm Beaches have their eight beach cams collectively on one website; Florida Keys and Key West have a wide variety of water and beach view web cams. Also in Florida, South Walton is streaming Alys Beach and Grayton Beach and Grayton Dunes in Grayton Beach State Park. Pensacola Beach can be screened with east, west and south views. St. Pete/Clearwater through four live beach webcams of Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach and two different views of St. Pete Beach. Or check out Miami's sand scene with these beach cams.
Take a virtual tour of street art around the world
If life is looking a bit drab without travel, add some color into your life by setting off on a street art tour around the world—virtually. Google makes it easy to revisit some of your favorite murals that you’ve come across during your travels or to encounter outdoor public artwork you’ve always wanted to see. Use the human icon to take in the murals from the street level. Enjoy a private viewing of the art displays from the safety of your couch and let these street artists transport you to destinations near and far with this virtual street art tour. Miami, Florida The largest collection of street art in the U.S can be enjoyed at the Wynwood Arts District in Miami with over 200 murals spanning 50 blocks. Shepard Fairey of Obey Giant painted one of the most well-known pieces in the Wynwood Walls open-air museum of street art. His mural features motifs about climate change, war, and more political issues. The mural faces 2nd Avenue and is visible from the street and the museum’s main entrance. Check out more of the artwork in the area on the Wynwood Walls Virtual Gallery Tour featuring murals by internationally renowned artists like Futura, Os Gemeos, Swoon, and Miss Van. Austin, Texas Spotting murals between chowing down at taco stands is a quintessential Austin experience. Order some tacos from a Mexican taqueria and browse through the city's greatest murals including the iconic mural of world-famous Texan Willie Nelson created by local muralist Wiley Ross who later added a portrait of Janis Joplin alongside Nelson. No Austin street art tour would be complete without the uber-popular “I love you so much” mural by local visual artists Amy Cook and the landmark 'Greetings from Austin' postcard mural by Todd Sanders.©Christian Mueller/Shutterstoc New York, New York New York City is home to public art displays created by some of the most famous graffiti artists on the planet. Eduardo Kobra brought his “Colors of Liberty” project to NYC with a series of gigantic murals of iconic cultural figures in vibrant hues including a Frida Khalo painting and Fight for Street Art featuring Michael Halsband’s image of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, both in Brooklyn. Banksy slyly left a painting, ‘Hammer Boy’, on the Upper West Side. The boy is meant to represent the mischievousness of children. Keith Haring left a mark in Harlem with the anti-drug ‘Crack is Wack’ mural to warn against crack cocaine use which was rampant in the 80s when he made the painting. Puerto Rico Los Muros Hablan, meaning the walls speak, is an artist-led project to rescue the abandoned spaces of the city using art. The multicultural urban art initiative includes work from local and international artists. Look for colorful works of people and creatures from Spanish artist Aryz, Chinese artist DALeast, Mexican artist Sego, and more. ©LordRunar/Getty Images Berlin, Germany The East Side Gallery is the longest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall and has been covered in street art. You can scope out the legendary street art that spans across nearly a mile from your living room courtesy of Google. Don’t miss Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel’s ‘My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love’ depicting a kiss between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker. Other powerful motifs include Birgit Kinder’s painting of a car breaking through the Berlin Wall. Folkestone, United Kingdom Folkestone Artworks is the largest outdoor exhibition of contemporary art in the United Kingdom. UK’s largest urban outdoor exhibition of contemporary art comprises of 74 art installations across the town including several street art murals such as Michael Craig Martin’s 'Folkestone Lightbulb' which captures the essence of energy and inspiration created by the outdoor gallery. Valparaíso, Chile The bohemian Chilean city is a cultural center for art with an epic mural art scene. Virtually follow the Street Art Route to skip the lines and view some of the most beloved street art in town. Galvez Alley is a narrow alley decked out in an explosion of color with many murals. Valpo’s Granma by Ella & Pitr is one of Valparaíso’s most famous paintings which depicts a grandmother watching over the city.Scott Beale / Laughing SquidNashville, Tennessee Nashville is known as an arts and culture hub of the United States, and the street art is no different. Art by famous local and international artists can be found on the sides of buildings all across the city. Take a Google Earth tour of the best Nashville has to offer. Next time you find yourself in Nashville, take a photo in front of the famous angel wings, painted by Kelsey Montague, in the Gulch, or the "I Believe in Nashville" murals that can be found all around the city.