Qatar’s birdlife thriving amid coronavirus restrictions

Lockdown and movement restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic are having a positive effect on Qatar’s wildlife.

Lockdowns and restrictions on human movement due to the coronavirus pandemic have allowed nature to flourish around the world.

In Qatar, where a string of strict measures have been imposed to prevent the spread of the virus, an array of wildlife – from turtles and whale sharks to hundreds of species of birds – is thriving as a result.

Every sunset, thousands of cormorants return to a small island off Qatar’s northern coast to spend the night.

Due to the curbs on movement, there are hardly any boats on the water – and this is having an effect.

“You can see a clear sky everywhere,” Mehsin Alyafei, a Qatari marine environmentalist, told Al Jazeera.

“The water has become more clear, more fish are coming close to the area and that tells us one thing: where there is human, there is disaster.”

Flamingo birds on Qatar's eastern coast  [File:Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Flamingo birds seen on Qatar’s eastern coast [File: Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera] 

Meanwhile, with turtle hatching season set to start, authorities have designated certain areas as protected.


“People are now aware of the importance of wildlife, so the result has been great and the numbers of birds and turtles have increased,” Ahmed Ali Alkuwair, of Qatar’s environment ministry, said.

As coronavirus cases continue to increase in the Gulf state, the government has halted most commercial activities until May 30. 

All shops, with the exception of food and catering shops, pharmacies, restaurants delivery services and a few other essential services, will remain closed during the same time period, which coincides with the official Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Qatar, which made wearing face masks mandatory when leaving the house starting May 16, has so far recorded 47,207 coronavirus cases and 28 deaths.