We have not been thinking about our earth’s wildlife population enough.
The recent obituary about the Great Barrier Reef in the news was extremely saddening. It brought back into attention some of the most important problems about our earth’s declining health. As sordid as the actual details were, the very premise that we soon might have to write obituaries and sniff into napkins about Earth’s most precious resources was appalling.
The whole episode of the ‘#NowTrending #SaveTheReef’ hue and cry was about this: We are not killing the world. We are killing ourselves.
Nature is bigger than trending on the internet for a few days, cramped between some actress’ engagement news and the biggest scandal in country’s politics. It is choking in between all the crevices it needs to fill in to capture some attention in popular media for its honest cause.
As the human population booms, the space for humanity shrinks narrower.
Ever more so, the space for the greater part of this planet for the flora and the fauna shrunk up to give way human kind’s methods and means to live. The wildlife population have involuntary sacrificed their natural habitats for the sickening human need to live for themselves and them alone.
We all do. I do. You are right now.
In 40 years, the earth’s wildlife vertebrate population has halved itself. The 2016 Living Planet Report by the World Wildlife Fund reveals “the troubling extent of this and other environmental crises around the world,” with the help of some alarming statistics. Of the several other key points, some were:
– Researchers calculated these statistics by analyzing a total of 14,152 animal populations from 3,706 species.
– There is a decline at the rate of 2% of wildlife population annually, which if not curbed can plunge the graph to 70% by 2020.
– The fastest wildlife decline is in freshwater habitats, which lost 81 percent of their vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012. The drop rate for them is an alarming 4%.
– Habitat crisis has been the foremost cause of this decline.
Well, you must have read plenty of these articles ranting off numbers to you. But the truth is, numbers mean nothing to us if we don’t actually comprehend the alacrity of the situation.
Several critics of these reports have pointed out that analyzing exact numbers of demise on a global scale isn’t perfect. Maybe the wildlife populations haven’t dropped 60%. But understand this, even with the most improvised and fool-proof collaboration and tabulation of numbers, all graphs are headed to a cliff-drop.
So what do I do? Something needs to be done, my keyboard heroism right now isn’t going to save the declining lion population in Ghana, where, in one reserve, 90% of the lion population has been wiped out in 40 years.
40 years. That’s half of a normal human lifespan on earth today.
Of course, the WWF doesn’t want us to despair. Therefore, they have also come up with statistical analysis of conservation efforts that encourages positive countertrends to this horror.
Let me give you a few examples:
– While wildlife population drop was around 40% in land habitats overall, it was only about 20% on specifically protected areas.
– A special gorilla tourism project by in Rwanda by the Gorilla Conservation Project has effectively generated interests and promoted contribution to their sites.
– Tiger conservation has seen immense developments with the Tiger population bouncing back from the brink of extinction in Nepal and India. Even though their numbers have been calculated at 3000, they are rising and can be pushed up further.
So we can work on it. The conservation efforts are meaningless without us being aware of it, and actively contributing towards it.
Let’s start small, local. India hosts some of the richest biodiversity zones in the world, and falling under the tropical belt, has a dizzy number of animal species in the threatened lists. Being a developing country, our resources are being more aggressively tapped causing reprehensible damage.
The Wikipedia page tells me that there are only 300 saltwater crocodiles in the wild. Rhinos at Kaziranga, Tigers at Sariska, Blackbucks at Chilka, they are all under extreme stress. Do we know enough about them? Are we helping them to survive better?
This very awareness that the crisis is right next door needs to be expanded.
It’s no longer just about making donations. We need to change how we live and understand existence on this planet.
That doesn’t mean aping a proficient sub-culture by going ‘au natural’. It simply means that when we face statistics like these, we need to close that dripping tap, participate in conservation projects, reject trafficked animal products, reduce, reuse, recycle and overall simply stop acting like spoilt brats Mother Nature has to baby.
Only then will such reports on wildlife population make an interesting impact.
What do you think?
To know more:
– The Guardian report: “Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF.”
– Mother Nature Network: “11 startling stats about Earth’s disappearing wildlife.”
– World Wildlife Organisation: Living Planet Report 2016
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.