Around 20% of the global population is currently in some form of lockdown as governments and health officials ramp up efforts to slow the spread of the accelerating COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting isolation has left many feeling a little despondent. Research tells us that spending just 20 minutes a day immersed in an environment where we feel connected with the natural world can significantly lower our stress hormone levels. Of course a stroll in the park is not an option for many people currently adhering to strict social-distancing regulations, so we've got the next best thing: wildlife web cams.

Many national parks and reserves have shut their doors, but that doesn't mean that you can't experience the outdoors vicariously through the wonder of technology. We've put together a list of ten nature livestreams to help chase away your pandemic pessimism. 

Tembe Elephant Park

If it's elephants you're after, this is the livestream for you. The grey giants are regularly seen quenching their thirst or enjoying a dust bath on the banks of a waterhole in South Africa's Tembe Elephant Park where this camera is located. The park is also home to a multitude of other species including lions, rhinos, Cape buffalos, warthogs, nyala, and leopards. 

Southwest Florida bald eagle nest

When a pair of bald eagles settled into a tree on the Pritchett family property in Fort Myers, Florida back in 2006, the raptors quickly drew a crowd of birdwatchers and photographers. Realising the popularity of the new arrivals – not to mention the growing number of online nest cams that had begun to surface – the Prichetts installed cameras on branches surrounding the nest in 2012 and soon had thousands of avid eagle fans tuning in. Friendly warning: nest cams are surprisingly addictive.

Shark cam

Submerged 32 miles off the coast of North Carolina, this shark cam from Explore.org offers the perfect escapism for budding divers and snorkellers. We won't judge you for gearing up in desperation before watching, so dust off your wetsuit, slap on a scuba mask and dive in!

Homosassa Springs Underwater Manatees

This live feed takes us into the crystal-clear waters off the coast of Florida where there's a good chance you'll catch a glimpse of those most lovable of aquatic creatures, the manatees. The camera is set up in the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park – a sanctuary for manatees with severe injuries or illnesses that prevent them from being released back into the wild. Instead they spend their days at the sanctuary showing off for online audiences.

Hummingbird nest cam

Since at least 2005, a pair of hummingbirds have been nesting in the branches of a ficus tree in La Verne, California. Thanks to this nest cam, you can watch the hovering hummers raising their broods.

Cat-EYE Cam

Keen to take a trip to untouched Africa from the comfort of your home office? Of course you are. Africam's Cat-EYE cam is set in South Africa's Greater Kruger Park where it offers viewers a a front-row seat to Africa and its wildlife.

GRACE gorilla cam

The eastern lowland gorilla is an endangered primate endemic to the montane forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In an effort to aid the imperilled species, the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) was set up near the Tayna Nature Reserve with the main goal of nursing orphaned primates back to health and ultimately releasing them back into the wild. To offer some insight into the daily activities of the sanctuary's inhabitants, a live cam was installed at a busy corridor that connects the animals' night quarters with the DRC forest habitat. If primates are your thing, tune in and get a glimpse of gorilla goings-on.

NYU hawk cam

We're ending things off with a bit of urban avian action. Since 2011 a pair of red-tailed hawks have been nesting on a ledge at the New York University's Bobst Library - a spot that affords them a decent view of the Big Apple's Washington Square Park. A camera was installed that provides an intimate look at hawk life as the pair settle into the nest each year and raise their young. Red-tailed hawks adjust well to urban environments and this live feed shows how comfortable they are living alongside humans. 

Header image: Lisa Zins