Technically albeit homo-sapiens are a part of the larger animal world, but our ways are much wilder, inhuman and dastardly than the so-called wild animals. The wild predators hunt and kill other animals just to satisfy their hunger and nothing beyond. Men also hunted other animals for the same reason during cave age, but once they were ‘civilized’, started hunting just for fun! Killing an unarmed innocent animal, that too from a distance indeed is a cowardice act. For hundreds of thousands of years, wild animals were using the nature’s gifts continuously without devastating those and maintaining a perfect ecological balance till the arrival of the latest entrants, the civilized men into the only known livable planet.
Men simply don’t give a damn to the fact that they, the animals, birds, plants and so on are born out of the same nature’s womb. Nature is the common mother and technically we are all siblings. If we keep hurting our mother or siblings, we indirectly hurt ourselves. Each and every living being has a right to survive with dignity. The planet doesn’t belong to mankind alone. It’s high time we realize that all animals, birds, etc. have the equal right to live and use the planet which belonged to them in the first place. In fact, man evolved from walking the ape-man stage and emerged as a real man only some fifty thousand years ago. We are still very young on the planet.
We lose an acre half of the forest every second or 15 billion trees a year. A research by World Wildlife Fund in 2014 reveals that in just 40 years between 1970 and 2010, the population of wild vertebrates decreased by 52 percent. Then the second report says that during the following two years the animal population further decreased by another 6 percent. Based on these figures if a simple mathematical calculation is done, with the current rate of decline all the wild animals will vanish from the face of the earth by 2026! Unless concerted holistic actions are taken urgently and humans are made fully aware of the danger, we may end up in “Year Zero” when wild animals will only be seen in the cages of the zoos.
We have officially demarcated some areas as protected wildlife sanctuaries including national parks for preserving the remaining wildlife, as samples. This act is just an apology to our natural brethren, not a benediction. But on the other hand, we have started encroaching upon such protected areas leading to serious man-animal conflicts. If a poor animal wanders into such illegally occupied areas for the search of food or whatever, it is captured and not only mercilessly killed but even mutilated. Some even raise questions on why we should have protected forests for the tigers, lions and alike as they are ferocious and dangerous to human life! Tiger sits on the epitome of ecological pyramid. If a tiger survives, that means there are enough herbivorous animals in the area on whom a tiger survives. Existence of herbivorous animals indicates that there is enough vegetation and greenery. Lush vegetation signifies that the soil has micro-organisms and is fertile.
It’s not that the civilized humans didn’t know about the preservation of wildlife. Hindu religious texts say that “Atma” (soul) exists in all living creatures. In Biblical mythology, at the time of an impending catastrophe Noah collected male-female samples of all the plants and animals and puts those into his arch for the future generations, without any discrimination. But we have preferred to forget the age-old wisdom. The species that avoid conflicts among themselves would survive and those who quarrel and fight would be wiped out. There’s always a certain amount of competition, especially among the predators, for food. But, the mild and sociable animals like deer, horses, rhinos or cattle never fight for food. That may be one of the reasons that they are more numerous than tigers and lions. Among the members of the same species, mutual aid and co-operation are the law of nature. But humans fight with each other on the smallest pretext. Can we not learn a lesson or two from the animal world?
Fortunately, amidst the gloom a few flashes of encouraging news pouring in from around the world. The brief narration should start with our own “Forest Man”, Jadav Payeng. This remarkable nature lover, a simple man of the Mishing tribe of Assam, has single-handedly created 1360 acres of dense and defiant forest in a barren sandy land of Aruna Chapori, near Jorhat. The lone crusader started this humongous task starting with only 50 seeds and 25 bamboo plants given by the villagers at the tender age of 16 years in 1979. Today he is in mid-fifties and his dream forest has five Royal Bengal tigers, over a hundred deer, wild boars, four rhinoceroses, several species of birds, snakes, etc. A herd of hundred-odd elephants visits the forest regularly. A Padmashree awardee, he is rightfully named as the “Forest Man of India.”
In the organized arena, New Raipur city, Chhattisgarh, has created a micro-forest right in the heart of the city in an area of 202 acres with a nineteen-acre “Oxy-Zone” for walking, jogging, meditation, and yoga. The forest will have varieties of flowers, trees, animals with vehicle safari facilities. China is constructing the world’s first “forest-city” with 40,000 trees that will eat its own toxic smog. Australia is using tree-planting drones that can plant one lakh trees per day. But we still have a long way to go. Sincerely hope that we still have some time to mend our ways. We are duty-bound to protect nature for our off-springs, or else the posterity will condemn us forever. Let us live and let live!
(The author of the column is a former Vice President of Reliance Defence & Engineering Ltd., Gujarat. Presently, he is a freelance writer, management consultant, and professional trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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