In its recent report entitled Species Feeling the Heat: Connecting Deforestation and Climate Change, the World Wildlife Conservation Society drew attention to a wide gamut of issues. These issues included, among other things, change in land and sea temperatures, the changing pattern and intensity of rainfall and overall climate change. At the heart of the report was the urgent need to conserve wildlife throughout the world.
As global citizens it is our duty to save the rapidly vanishing greenery, the wildlife, the environment and thereby rescue Mother Earth from its present crisis. If we fail to do so, betrayed Nature would inevitably seek her revenge and we would have to brace for our doom in the not-so-distant future. Thus it is incumbent upon us to save our planet. Bearing this exigency in mind, the year 2010 has been declared by the United Nations as the ‘Year of Biodiversity’ in order to promote climate and environmental awareness among the masses.
Let us explore the reasons why wildlife conservation is topmost priority now. Hundreds of millions of people whose livelihood depend on forest resources are today hapless victims of deforestation. Lack of conservation by farmers in the highland regions often leads to deluge in the low-lying areas. Deforestation and lack of wildlife conservation also result in the precious loss of biodiversity.
Countless rare species of plants and animals are lost every day. This includes the loss of rare medicinal plants which substantially reduce the chance of finding new remedies or drugs for ailments that plague humankind. The indirect effect of the lack of wildlife conservation is the enhancement of infertility of soils, and droughts.
Destruction of forests and the lack of conservation lead to atmospheric changes, increasing the chances of recurrence of natural disasters, global warming, decrease in production of food grains. Lack of wildlife conservation also endangers the lives of the coastal population especially through the rise of sea level.
The depletion of the ozone layer increases the chances of occurrence of cancer and cataract. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is consumed by forests in terrestrial area and corals in the marine area. These two sinks of carbon are what have saved humankind from extinction due to global warming.
Trees were worshipped in ancient India. Even Kautilya’s Arthashastra has instances showing conservation of forests. The first forest act came into force in 1878 as the Indian Forest Act which was subsequently revised in 1928. The first conservation act which came in 1980 and which was revised in 1988, envisages thirty-three per cent forest area in the planes and sixty per cent forest areas in the hills. Forests need to be effectively managed. The area of forests, which is felled, should be subsequently replanted to maintain the equilibrium.
Destruction of wildlife, be it in the Amazon Forest or closer home in the Sunderbans, all result in precious loss of birds, animals and plants. It is a well-known fact today that various species of birds and animals are rapidly becoming extinct. The long list includes Bicknell’s thrush, flamingoes, Irrawaddy dolphins, musk ox, Hawk’s bill, tigers, cheetahs, rhinos, leopards, sea turtles, sharks and several other bird, animal and insect species.
The lessons of conservation should permeate all sections of society. The local people and the tribals should be involved in the conservation and preservation of wildlife. Environmental activists must instill within them that human beings need wildlife for their own survival. Each and every species of wildlife—birds, animals, reptiles, insects and plants—have the right to exist in this world.
Human domination and industrialisation cannot snatch away the prerogative of inarticulate birds and beasts. For protection of precious biodiversity, we must preserve wildlife. Awareness needs to be inculcated at the grassroot level. All schools should be encouraged to open nature clubs and activism must be promoted to conserve rare birds and animals. Wildlife is precious and we must save it to ensure a better future for us.