By: N. Munal Meitei
The country is facing with acute challenges in conservation of wildlife but still trying to protect the critical species and eco-regions from many challenges. The 67th Wildlife Week is celebrated across the country between 2nd to 8th October with an aim to arouse the general awakening of the people to protect and preserve the flora and fauna of the country and to take some critical steps since 1955.
There are many animals and plants in our forests and around. Due to these animals and plants, our environmental balance is preserved intake. The role played by wildlife in maintaining the ecological balance of nature is undeniable. Any harm to the wilderness can pose a threat to the entire ecosystem. During this week, seminars, lectures, awareness programs, workshops, public meetings, slogan, spot painting & essay writing competitions are organised at various schools and institutions to make people and students understand the importance of wildlife conservation.
The animals and plants that live in the wild have an intrinsic value and contribution to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of the human well-being. A symbiotic relationship exists between the forest, forest-dwelling wildlife species, ecosystem services and people, especially the indigenous people who manage around 28% of the forest land, making the goal of wildlife week relevant and significant. These spaces are not only their economic resources, but also to their cultural identities. Wildlife preservation is a management for the human progress also as both are interconnected.
Wildlife week celebration is an opportunity to many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that their conservation provides to mankind. It also reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, the fourth largest crime after arms, drugs and human trafficking.
India owns 7.8% of the recorded species of biodiversity reserved in the planet, though we share only 2.4% of the world’s geographical area. We also harbor 20% or136 crores population and 30% of world cattle population. The country is in the 5 hot spots of the world. More than 500 species of mammals, 1220 species of birds, 1600 species of reptiles and amphibians populate this subcontinent. India owns 80% of the world’s wild tiger population, 60% of Asian elephants, 80% of the one-horned rhinoceros and the entire remaining population of the Asiatic lion. The good news is, we got 8 Cheetahs, 5 females and 3 males at Kono N.P. from Namibia after 70 years of our extinction.
But our rich wildlife brings itself with several threats as well. We may not aware of the potential harms caused to this wildlife from various reasons. It is thus necessary for us to take part in wildlife week initiatives. The country has 1065 -Protected areas including 104 National parks, 566 Wildlife sanctuaries, 32 Elephant reserves, 52 Tiger Reserves, 97 Conservation reserves and 214 Community reserves covering 171921 sq. km which is 5.03% of our geographical area. We also have 75 Ramsar sites of wetland importance.
It is the need of the hour to aware about the causes threatening the staggering wildlife that inhabit on this planet. It is also necessary to understand that humans are not the only species that have the right to live on this earth and her resources. With rapid urbanization, decreasing forest covers, irregular seasonal changes and forest fires, our wildlife is threatened like never before with different plaguing to cohabitants such as man-wildlife conflict.
The children and youth are the future leaders of wildlife conservation. They deserve for a future where the humans live in harmony with wildlife that shares the planet with us. In this way we would be able to change the entire human mind towards the wildlife conservation on this week-long celebration. A trip with students can easily get the learning about the wildlife conservation and maintenance. They must understand the important aspects of the wildlife in their own life. They also should understand that wildlife is the most beautiful gift of God which we need to be preserved and honored.
Before green house gases and global warming, wildlife species were able to survive in their natural habitats. Though we have also the never ending challenges from population explosion, deforestation, climate change, pollution and habitat lost etc, over the past few years, a considerable change has been noticed. There have got more and more calls from different sectors asking for help in rescuing and relocating the wild animals. It is important to note that the peoples mindset have gradually moved from “find and kill” to “rescue and release”.
Manipur with recorded over 1200 species of plants and animals always fascinate us. These species comprising of 472 orchids, 52 edible fruits, 75 each of woody plants besides 120 species of fishes including 29 in ornamental forms. The state supports nearly 40% of the total flowering plants recorded in India, out of which 31.58% are endemic. The wildlife of Manipur includes about 1200 medicinal plants, 500 species of orchids, 55 species of bamboo, 695 birds, 160 fish species, 21 migratory aquatic birds and many big animals. But the region is suffering from the acute environmental degradation threatening to the permanent loss of our flora and fauna. Thus, we may not bring back our once quite abundant and now lost animals including tiger, leopards, elephants and Javan Rhinocerus from to our soil but at least we could save the Sangai.
Future of wild life conservation depends on the action and values of people. By facilitating a deeper relationship with the environment and the mankind, the country’s wild life can be conserved for the future. As much we love ourselves and our family, we also should love our nature, environment, wildlife as well. Our Environment, including the wildlife is the basis of our survival. It is not very hard for us to protect wildlife if we start to act accordingly. Therefore with coming of the Wildlife Week- 2022, let’s not harm the wildlife and before that, think twice for an earth without the wildlife.
(The author is a Environmentalist, email- [email protected])