Respecting the Balance of Nature
People took to the internet to celebrate the sight of wild animals and birds on the streets and public places during the initial days of the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown, by sharing photos of such a rare spectacle but that lasted only for a brief moment. Those animals have long vanished. It is a testimony of human’s abuse of nature and that we have pushed wildlife to a small corner that is too small to spread its wings, and thus causing human-animal conflicts. Governments, organisations and conservationists have been making efforts through prohibitive laws, awareness campaigns and other measures to protect wildlife for years but it is crystal clear that either it is not enough or the general public is still indifferent about this issue, or the whole natural system has failed. The Living Planet Report 2020 by popular conservation organisation World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) exposed the grim state of the earth’s biodiversity. According to the Living Planet Index (LPI), ‘the populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have fallen by an average of 68% in less than 50 years (1970 –2016), and freshwater biodiversity is declining much faster than that in our oceans or forests, with a record 84% decline in freshwater species, which is equivalent to 4% per year since 1970’. The report also stated that nearly 600 seed plant species globally have become extinct or ‘extinct in the wild’. Seed plant extinctions are occurring up to 500 times faster than in preindustrial times. These findings clearly indicate that human beings have abused the environment for too long that it will take decades and centuries of effort to rebuild our broken relationship with nature.
The north-eastern states of India may be blessed with nature, home to hundreds of flora and fauna due to its geographical location and climatic condition but its rich biodiversity is at peril. Overexploitation of resources and depletion of forest areas, as highlighted in the India State of Forest Report 2019, have badly disturbed the ecology of the region that many living beings may soon become extinct if we continue to exploit our natural environment. Despite widespread awareness on wildlife conservation and vigilance by the authorities, sights of wild animals and birds, both death and alive, being sold on the roadsides and even in open markets are not uncommon. It is also not uncommon to see people flaunting pictures of killed wild animals on the internet, inviting trouble from law enforcing agencies. Some may resort to such acts out of ignorance while some to earn a living but it should be stopped before many endangered animal species go extinct. Strict vigilance will help but creating awareness and education will be more effective in curbing this issue among the tribal communities as it’s something they have been practising for ages and it’s their way of life. So, it is necessary to make the people understand the implications of disturbing the ecology, and this is the best time to do so, as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has affected the whole world is a result of human neglect and excessive abuse of nature. If depletion of earth’s biodiversity is not arrested on time, it will be humanly impossible to repair the damage after a few decades, and the outcome of such a situation will be catastrophic. We must take action now before new devastating pandemics hit us.