AN EARTH DAY FOR THE AGES

· Hundreds of stories have gone around the world describing the return of nature to silent areas where humans would dwell.

· Extinction Rebellion, as part of its #LoveAndRageInTimesOfCorona campaign, has asked members from over 65 countries to describe some of these stories.

· The presence of nature in cities helps provide a welcome respite from the difficult moment we are going through collectively, #AloneTogether.

Wednesday April 22nd, 2020 (Global)- As our planet grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic, with over 2 million infections, hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide and a vaccine still far in the future, Extinction Rebellion activates its network, asking rebels from across the world to confirm stories of unusual sightings. With a presence in over 65 countries, the global movement is in a position to bear witness to the striking reality of silent cities. Nature, usually absent from hustle and bustle of human activity, is venturing into spaces left still by human beings. We collect some of the experiences confirmed by rebels.

Our journey begins with Extinction Rebellion Uganda, where Joseph Masembe confirms how “poaching of wildlife is at its lowest, pollution of the air and water bodies is also down, and deforestation is seemingly at a standstill.” Speaking from Kampala, Flavia describes “animals and birds, until previously a rare sight on our streets and backyards, are now common. In Queen Elizabeth National Park, lions are relaxing on the road. These big cats usually hide for most of the day, but now they enjoy the sun and the warm road beneath them. They, like us, are also somehow forced to take it easy. Makes us feel not so alone, somehow.

Humans are not the only ones threatened by COVID19, points out Extinction Rebellion Congo. “Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to about a third of the world’s mountain gorillas, has closed its gates until at least June,” explains James Kataliko, following “advice from scientific experts who warn that primates, including mountain gorillas, are likely susceptible to complications arising from the COVID19 virus. It is very touching to see how humans also care for the other inhabitants of our country, threatened by the very same virus which has brought such sadness to our planet.”

In South Africa, in the Western Cape town of Langebaan, “thousands of birds were seen descending onto the beach in numbers we've not seen before, going crazy over the sardines doing their yearly run along the coast, unfished by humans,” describes Nicole Collier-Naidoo from Extinction Rebellion South Africa. “There is something therapeutic about seeing life flourish in the midst of so much sadness, making us more aware of how often we take simple gifts for granted.”

Speaking from Extinction Rebellion India Ajinkya Chikte, tells of how he saw dolphins swimming near Marine Drive in Mumbai. “It was amazing to see how soon into lockdown beautiful creatures we had never seen so close, approached our now silent home” explains Ajinkya. “It felt almost as if nature was showing solidarity with our collective suffering by displaying its grace and beauty, where it had been missed, to give us hope for a new tomorrow.”

Further to the east, Extinction Rebellion Australia confirmed reports of kangaroo sightings deep in cities, in stark contrast to the devastation wrought on the country by the bush fires earlier this year. “It’s actually not unusual to see kangaroos on the street or in front yards of certain suburbs, but it is unusual in the middle of a capital city, as happened recently on the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” explained Larissa, spokesperson for the movement.

Even in Mexico, where lockdown has come at a slower rate than other countries, residents have been subject to extraordinary sightings. Melissa Jiménez, from Extinction Rebellion Mexico, describes how “Caribbean hotels usually teeming with holidaymakers are now welcoming a different sort of guest; jaguars, leatherback turtles, great curassow birds and even crocodiles have come too explore the silence we have left behind. Maybe, when all this ends, we can find a way to coexist. in the meantime, we celebrate this natural beauty, a welcome distraction from the fear and uncertainty we are experiencing.”

Walking on the beach by his home in Jaffo-Tel Aviv, Michael Raphael from Extinction Rebellion Israel recounts how he “saw a large Brown Sea Turtle and an old fisherman in Jaffa said to me as we looked in awe at it, ‘the last time I saw a turtle here was during the British mandate (1947)’”.

The sample of experiences collected on this unusual and historic Earth Day serve as a testament to the planet’s resilience and act as beacon of hope, nature is encouraging us to pull through, to survive. Life will prevail as large parts of the world experience the turmoil of lockdowns. In the meantime, Extinction Rebellion will continue to strengthen and consolidate its global network of resilience to provide counsel, advice and solidarity during this shared drama, and continue to be inspired by the very life and nature we stand together and rebel for.

For further information or interviews with rebels in over 65 countries please contact: press@organise.earth