The deafening roar that announced its entry, the shiny coat with its beautiful stripes, and that authoritative gait as it slowly made its way, nowhere. The toddler I stood mesmerised and absently clutched my mother’s hand as we watched the magnificent beast gingerly walk inside its cage. As I silently prayed that its sharp claws couldn’t cut through the thick wires, I overheard few questions that fellow zoo visitors were pondering upon aloud. “Is this space enough for it?” “Has it forgotten hunting?” “Doesn’t it get bored alone all day?” Although I couldn’t fathom the gravity of these deliberations back then, I can now fully comprehend the need for wildlife conservation and natural habitat. Have you ever felt the same?
What is Wildlife Conservation?
Every big and small organism plays an important part in providing balance and stability in the ecosystem. Due to human population explosion and urbanisation natural resources have staggeringly diminished and many species are either extinct or on the verge of extinction. The essence of wildlife conservation is protecting different plant and animal species and their natural habitats. This involves taking preemptive measures for their survival and working towards educating people about it.
What are its different types?
- Species conservation – The huge diversity makes it almost impossible to identify every species that is close to extinction. According to studies, over 27,000 of the species assessed need to be conserved. However, with limited resources, depending upon their importance in the ecosystem and the risk of extinction, species are selected and bracketed for conservation.
- Habitat conservation – As the name suggests, habitat conservation focuses on protecting the natural habitat to protect the species that inhabit it. Interestingly, some species exist in biodiversity hotspots with other endangered species and have specific habitat requirements. This type of conservation is preferable since identifying habitats is easier than concentrating on a single species.
What are the threats to wildlife?
While habitat loss is one of the major threats to wildlife, there are other human activities that contribute to it as well.
- Climate change – Climate change is a major threat to wildlife since it hampers natural cycles making their survival difficult. Food, shelter, safety, migration, etc are all severely affected due to it. It has led to serious issues like global warming, landslides, and many other occurrences that affect humans too.
- Disease – Adapting to changes is a slow process and isn’t guaranteed either. Wildlife is at great risk of disease due to unhealthy ecosystems. Is that why so many new kinds of infections develop? Could be!
- Pollution – Manmade, factory, or chemical waste is routinely dumped carelessly leading to air and water pollution. These pollutants are extremely dangerous and can lead to irreversible damage to natural habitats.
- Overexploitation –Certain chosen plant and animal species are unfairly exploited for food, medicine, sports, clothing, etc which leads to an imbalance in nature. Have you noticed how many indigenous fruit and vegetable varieties have disappeared over the years?
How will wildlife conservation help us?
Although humans presume superiority, every living being is special and important. Mother Earth belongs to everyone and harmony with nature can be achieved if we co-exist happily. Here’s how:
- Preservation of native plant species – Pollination through birds, bees, insects, etc has traditionally been the best way to ensure food production and continuity of native plant species.
- Medicinal value – Aloe vera, turmeric, asafoetida, etc have been commonly used in our homes for medicinal purposes. Animal products like cobra venom in leprosy medication or lobsters as antifungals are useful too.
- Tourism opportunities – Needless to say, wildlife sanctuaries, nature parks, etc are a huge draw for nature enthusiasts. It’s a win-win situation since we can witness their activities in their natural habitat and create capital for their upkeep as well. It also helps in generating employment for the indigenous population.
- Protection of biodiversity – Remember studying the food chain in school? Herbivores eat plants, carnivores eat herbivores and when they die, scavengers feast on them. Any change in this order will upset the ecological balance.
- Education, learning, and research – Knowledge regarding various wildlife species can be gathered only if they exist, can’t it? This information can also aid in research in fields like genetics and aid in a better understanding of the flora and fauna around us.
- Preservation for future generations – We wouldn’t want our future generations to identify plants and animals only through pictures, would we? It is our responsibility to preserve, conserve, create and leave a better world for them.
Which are the Wildlife Conservation agencies in India?
- National Tiger Conservation Authority
- Zoological Survey of India
- Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
- Central Zoo Authority of India
- Forestry Commission
You must’ve heard that if bees go extinct, in four years humans too would cease to exist. This symbiotic relationship is a fine example of how a tiny bee with its nectar collection and pollination unknowingly creates food for our consumption. We might’ve developed sophisticated technologies but our primary needs are still dependant on wildlife and nature. Shouldn’t we then do our bit and nurture this priceless gift we’ve been blessed with?
This post is part of #CauseAChatter with Blogchatter
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