Protecting Nature's Bounty - Eastern Mirror
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Protecting Nature’s Bounty

By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 06, 2024 12:04 am

Sensing visible threat posed by irresponsible human activities like hunting and illegal wildlife trade across the globe, which could drive numerous animal and plant species into extinction as well as disrupt the ecosystem, the United Nations General Assembly, in 2013, declared March 3 as World Wildlife Day. It is an occasion to celebrate varied forms of flora and fauna, acknowledge the importance of wildlife to human beings and create awareness about the need to conserve them for future generations. But for regions like Northeast India, there is not much to celebrate after all the damage done to its rich biodiversity over the past few decades. Despite awareness campaigns and action being taken against the violators of Indian wildlife laws, hunting continues unabated. Many indigenous tribal communities continue to kill wild animals for their meat to this day. For them, hunting is an age-old tradition but change is inevitable for maintaining ecological balance. Practices that are detrimental to the environment, which in turn will have a negative impact on human beings ranging from economy to environment to health, have to be stopped. Rampant killing of wild animals with modern tools for commercial purposes, compounded by the encroachment of animal habitat and rapid deforestation, has pushed several animal and plant species to the brink of extinction. No wonder cases of human-animal conflicts are increasing as well.

The fact remains that people continue to kill wild animals, and this is evident from the dwindling population of animals and availability of endangered species in the market. In the context of Northeast India, one of the reasons for failing to mitigate the issue of poaching and hunting is a lack of community involvement. Experts have been talking about the need to conserve wildlife and authorities conduct awareness programmes but mostly in urban areas, so the message often doesn’t reach people in the remote areas where rare species are still found and where law enforcement agencies can’t reach. This calls for the need to educate people, especially in rural areas, about the importance of conserving biodiversity while suggesting alternative means of income. Encouragingly, some villages and civil society organisations in Nagaland have banned the burning of jungles and hunting, especially during the breeding season. With the onset of bird breeding season, it is even more important for the authorities and the general public to collectively work towards implementing the ban. For an effective result, more villages should join the fight. Such effort can pay great dividends, as is seen in Africa, where wildlife tourism has become a good source of revenue. According to a report by the UNWTO, wildlife tourism accounts for 7% of world tourism and it witnesses about 3% growth annually. It went on to say that 14 countries in Africa generate an estimated USD 142 million annually in entrance fees for protected areas. Northeast India can emulate this by conserving wildlife.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 06, 2024 12:04:29 am
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