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Wild animals are taking over cities during the coronavirus pandemic

Wild boars promenade the luxurious avenues of Barcelona, and peacocks calmly stroll through the centre of Madrid.

Animals otherwise found only in rural areas appear to be attracted to cities in Spain as humans remain inside as part of a strict lockdown.

It's a phenomenon that is being replicated across the globe: As urban residents are forced to stay indoors, animals seem eager to recapture the space vacated by humans: More and more videos are circulating online of wild animals exploring usually bustling human environments.

In Spain, experts are drawing a clear link with the virus crisis, which has emptied streets since a lockdown came into place March 15.

Since then, without humans around, the environment is both cleaner and quieter, something that is a "balm to the animal world," says Roberto Hartasanchez, from the Spanish conservation NGO fapas.

Even wolves have returned: There have been several reported sightings in residential areas, An​gel San​chez, an animal welfarist lobbying for the protection of the Iberian wolf, told the newspaper El Pais.

"We expect the wolves to reproduce more successfully now because they are less likely to be disturbed," Sanchez told the Spanish outlet.

In Almeria, in the southern region of Andalusia, Emilio Gonzalez of the environmental protection organization Serbal is also hoping the new situation will help threatened species such as the hawk eagle or European wildcat to reproduce better.

"In the countryside, we are currently seeing more couples among birds of prey, martens, and among predators and herbivores in general," says Ernesto Alvarez, president of Spanish conservation group Grefa.

"Everything has disappeared," says Alvarez, noting the change since the onset of the coronavirus crisis. "The many hikers and cyclists, the training athletes - suddenly they are no longer there."

In the area around Madrid, for example, there are "five or six pairs of hawk eagles that now have much better prospects," Alvarez says.

Gerardo Baguena, head of the Spanish foundation for the preservation of the bearded vulture, has a similar view: "There are currently no mountaineers, no paragliders, no helicopters, nothing," he says.

As Humans Remain In Lockdown During Coronavirus Pandemic, Animals Roam

The bearded vulture is, with a wingspan of around 3 metres, the largest in Europe, and is in danger of extinction. Now experts are hoping the current situation will have positive side effects.

"We estimate that the number of chicks that will grow large enough to fly in the Central Pyrenees will climb from 22 to 30," says Baguena.

"That would be a record in 25 years of observation."

The current quiet is also making animals in Britain, South America and Asia bolder. In the Chilean capital, Santiago, a young puma was spotted roaming the streets, apparently having come down into the city from the nearby mountains in search of prey.

Since the streets were nearly empty, the puma continued to explore right into residential areas. Authorities said they stunned the animal, examined it, and later released it back into the wild.

Meanwhile, in Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv, a group of 10 jackal families had reportedly already made the city's Yarkon park their home even before the coronavirus crisis. But since residents have been told to stay home, the Haaretz newspaper reported, the animals are now increasingly wandering wider afield, onto the park paths.

In the capital cities of India and Nepal, the monkeys and dogs that normally share their habitats with millions of people are free to roam the streets unheeded, while in Llandudno, in northern Wales, wild cashmere goats have been spotted roaming near-deserted streets in search of their favourite food: hedges.

Refering to the animals as "vandals," residents say the goats have already destroyed the newly planted trees in front of a local school.

In Italy's Milan, swans caused a sensation in the Navigli, a canal system, whereas in Venice, pictures and videos were circulating online showing cleaner-than-usual canals once again full of fish.

"Nature is taking back its space," write users of the Venezia Pulita, or Clean Venice group.

However, the lack of humans isn't all positive: The World Wildlife Fund has raised concerns in Spain that the pandemic could damage a settlement project for griffon vultures in Segovia, near Madrid. As all restaurants are closed, the scavengers are unlikely to find food.

Fewer people out and about means fewer food scraps, which are essential nutrition for some animals. In the Thai province of Lop Buri, for example, monkeys were filmed violently fighting for scraps.

A passer-by in the popular Spanish holiday town of Benidorm, normally crowded in spring, experienced an attack on an empty street, reminiscent of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller "The Birds."

The older woman was pushing a shopping trolley on the street when she was surrounded by a flock of white doves. Many Spaniards say they have noticed birds acting more aggressively in recent days.

"The pigeons are hungry," read a headline in La Vanguardia newspaper.