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Environment

Longing for the Great Outdoors? Think Smaller.

Access to parks, nature, and wildlife is critical for physical and emotional well-being. Now some city dwellers sheltered at home must find it in new ways.  
A waterfront park in Macau. Even in one of the world's most dense cities, access to nature can make the social isolation and anxiety of coronavirus lockdown more endurable.
A waterfront park in Macau. Even in one of the world's most dense cities, access to nature can make the social isolation and anxiety of coronavirus lockdown more endurable.Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg

Danny Leong knows how to find nature in unexpected places. A Ph.D. candidate studying entomology and urban ecology in Macau, he earned the moniker of “Macau Ant Man” in 2017, after discovering a new species of the insect in the most densely peopled region on earth.

That knack for hidden wildlife will be handy when Leong leads his hometown into the City Nature Challenge next month. For three days every April, the global event encourages regular people to look for wildlife in their communities and post observations onto the app iNaturalist, netting everything from daddy long-legs and dogwood trees to rare orchids and red-faced warblers. Species are then tallied up for each city. Since 2018, Leong has coordinated Macau schools, museums, and universities to get locals, especially children, hunting in nearby parks and gardens.