Feb 02, 2023
Feb 02, 2023
by Naira Yaqoob
'To be in fashion today means to be extremely aware of the damage that we are capable of inflicting on nature, our planet and ourselves' ' Franco Moschino
As man learnt about nature he started to interfere with the laws of nature. He cut off the forests for agriculture and tamed wild animals for his food and clothing. Man was able to conquer nature, yet he can't control it. A balance exists between all living and non-living things in nature. Ecological disasters are bound to happen if there is any disturbance in the natural equilibrium. Increased industrialization and human requirements have led to the destruction of our forests and wildlife, which are interdependent in more than one ways.
Forests are indispensable to mankind. They provide us with wood, raw materials; prevent floods and soil erosion; increase underground water supply and humidity of air; provide an abode for the wildlife, check air pollution, etc. On a sunny day a large elm tree gives off vapor which is equivalent to 1500 gallons of water. Annual world production of forest products exceeds US $ 150 billion, thus playing a vital role in the economy of a nation. According to a UN report, rain forests have been destroyed to a large extent. Man has mercilessly chopped off trees without paying any attention to the destruction he is causing to his own life and future. Hillsides have been stripped off its vegetation cover in the Himalayas, which has become a major cause for the earthquakes, avalanches, and landslides. Deforestation not only diminishes the natural beauty of any place but also upsets the ecological balance of that place. It is believed that the Thar Desert is a man-made desert. Yes! Emperor Akbar went for hunting there.
Wildlife is at the brink of destruction! Due to destruction of forests, pollution, climatic changes and extensive hunting of animals, many species of wildlife have become extinct. With extension, when a species disappears, it is gone forever! Wildlife destruction has upset the whole mechanism of natural regulation and balance, which could endanger our very existence. Animals are being used widely in drug research nowadays. Scientists believe that animal experimentation is necessary for the progress of medical sciences. They may be right but what we need is a balance between biomedical research and animal welfare.
The day is not far away when sighting a tusker will be a rare occurrence in India. The world famous 'Hangul', a reindeer species found only in Kashmir, is endangered. Maybe the future generation will not know what a Hangul was! 'Chiru', the Tibetan antelope, is also facing the threat of extinction due to its extensive hunting for the fleece, which is required to weave the famous Kashmiri Shahtoosh shawls. India is one of the world's extensive networks of officially Protected Areas. These areas a re a place of biological diversity and harmony but are now under a ruthless assault due to urbanization, population pressure, industrialization, etc. trade in wildlife products is a vast business involving billions of dollars!
Some of the facts that point out the urgent need to save our national wealth are:
' A national survey in India in 1980s revealed that humans inhibited 69% of Protected Areas.
' It is believed that an area of tropical forest 4 times the size of Switzerland disappears every year!
' Forestlands in the developing countries have declined to half of the original!
' Destruction of forests leads to the destruction of wildlife. For every plant species that becomes extinct upto 30 dependent animals and insects die.
' Earlier in this century there were about 50,000 tigers in India, but there are now less than 2000!
' Sri Lanka is a classic example, which can be cited while mentioning a place where the tusker population has been reduced to zero!
' 95% of the elephants that were killed in India were tuskers whose existence has been endangered due to poaching for ivory. According to the estimate provided by Areport, Bangalore's Asian Elephant Conservation Center, on an average 250 tuskers are killed every year in India.
' In a period of about 400 years, on an average, every year a species has become extinct. By 1985 this rate had increased to one species per day!
' According to a study of World Watch Institute minimum of 140 plant and animal species are condemned to extinction each day.
' There was a time when 40% of the land on earth was covered with forests. Unfortunately, only 1/3rd part of the land is now covered with forests and the rate of decreasing green cover is increasing day by day.
' A 50 year old tree generates oxygen worth 5.3 lakh rupees and 5.3 lakh rupees of shelter for birds and animals. Hence, destruction of one tree is worth loss of more than 32 lakh rupees!
Wildlife such as the aak bird of northern polar region, moa bird of New Zealand, dodo bird of Mauritius, thylacine of Tasmania, Indian tiger, Indian rhino, pink-headed duck, black-necked crane, bustard, barking deer, monitor lizard, panda, black panther, jaguar, lions, Indian wildass, muskdeer, etc are examples which are already or are about to become extinct. Animals facing the threat of extinction are Gila trout, Houston toad, gharial, Californian condor, javan rhinoceros, puma, polar bear, antelope, humpback whale, Kashmir stag (hangul), etc. Among plant species monkey orchid, alpine catchfly, snakes head fritillary, etc are endangered.
The way in which man exploits and destroys nature may definitely bring some short-term reward or profit but it harms him in the long run. The survival of the human race is possible only with the survival of our environment as a whole. A person may think that killing 'just one' animal or a bird won't matter much. But what is worth considering is the fact that there are millions of people out there having such attitude, thereby killing 'just one' animal or bird every now and then! It is this threat to wildlife that makes it mandatory for every person to understand the relation between organisms and their environment.
We have to make serious efforts toward wildlife conservation campaign. This credit goes to America because the first conservation area of the world- Yellow Stone National Park- was set up there in 1872. Today there are about 1200 such national parks and reserves in the world. The Himachal Wildlife Project, which was launched in the early 1980s, was the first serious attempt made by Indian conservationists in this direction. International Union for Conservation of Nature and natural resources (IUCN) was set up in 1948 in Switzerland and has done great work for the cause of healthy environment. WWF was set up in 1962 to provide funds for the conservation and preservation of wildlife. About 70% of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) projects have achieved their targets. India has taken the lead in rescuing a vital and charismatic predator- the snow leopard. Also, the Indian branch of the World Pheasant Association had started publication of a quarterly journal called the 'India News'. IWLA was passed in 1972 to protect habitats and endangered species. The government of J&K State had raised a trained force called as the 'Forest Protection Force' to tackle the illegal activities going in the forests in the state.
Something has been done, a lot more needs to be done. We have to develop harmony with nature as against conflict. Environmental issues should not only be discussed and talked about, but efforts should be made to do something at all possible levels. This issue needs to be a part of the public agenda. The concerned authorities should safeguard forests. Poaching and illegal hunting should be stopped. The export and sale of animal products should be completely banned. Habitats of the wildlife should be conserved like forests, wetlands, etc. Massive afforestation programs have to be set in motion. Eco-friendly stationery can save hundreds of bamboo or eucalyptus trees. Recycled paper use should be encouraged. Forest fires need to be prevented. Our political and legal systems alone can't accomplish much. To prevent the inhuman slaughter and hunting of these animals and birds, voluntary organizations should come forward and fight for this cause. We should protest if trees are being illegally cut down. We should support and participate in the programs of environmental groups and agencies.
It is true that man has caused these problems; it is equally true that the solutions are also to be provided and implemented by man himself! If we sincerely want that 'hangul' should not become 'history' for the future generations, we have to make serious efforts toward its conservation. The future generations should be given the opportunity of witnessing the unique and beautiful Planet earth of ours and not read about the 'green planet' in the books of fiction! We have no option but to conserve nature or its bankruptcy will extinguish us all!
More by : Naira Yaqoob
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