Significance of wildlife
Though the word `wildlife’ is often used to mean animals found in the wild, it actually includes all the organisms living in natural habitats.
We are used to looking upon the benefits of forests and wildlife from the economic pint of view. Well, even from that point of view, it is important to conserve wildlife. If a country thinks in terms of gaining by exporting timber or attracting tourists, what when the forests are gone or the animals have become extinct?
From the environmental point of view, each species plays its own role in an ecosystem. It is also linked to several others through food chains and other relation. Destroying or depleting population of one species can have an impact on several others.
Biodiversity means diversity in life forms or the variety of species. The greater the variety, the faster is the pace of evolution. Also, a greater variety means a richer bank of genetic material. The extinction of a species, which may be unknown or insignificant at present, means the loss of valuable genetic stock, which might have given rise to valuable spices in future. All the plants and animals we consider useful today, for example, have evolved through interactions among spices.
Depletion of wildlife
India is one of the 17 countries of the world that are known for their biodiversity. But we are losing our plants and animals at an alarming rate. Some 150 species of medical plants have become extinct. So have a significant fraction of other plants and animals. The cheetah is one of the animals we have lost, while the tiger, lion and rhinoceros are under threat. Some causes for the depletion of wildlife the world over are as follows.
a) The largest –scale killing of animals for food, trade and pleasure is one of the many causes for the depletion of wildlife. We may need to kill animals, but we cannot do so thoughtlessly.
b) Deforestation destroys the habitat of animals, endangering their survival. It occurs in many ways. A forest many get flood with the construction of a large dam. Or it may get fragmented by the construction of a road or railway through it, which may then lead to its being destroyed further. It may be opened to logging, which may lead to other encroachments, and so on.
c) The introduction of exotic species affects native species. Exotic species often do not have natural predators or enemies in the place into which they are introducing. Thus, their numbers grow unchecked, and they deprive the native species of food and space. This is what happened, for example, when rabbits were introduced into Australia and the spotted deer into the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
d) A monoculture forest is a forest created by planting a particular species of trees for commercial reasons. Such forests do not have the right conditions for the survival of diverse species.
e) Wetlands are rich in biodiversity. Destroying them by dumping waste or filling them up also threatens the survival of species.
Conservation of wildlife
a) There are several treaties or conventions relating to the protection of wildlife. Some of these are the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, wetlands, the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild Fauna and Flora, and the convention on biological diversity.
b) The best way to conserve wildlife is to conserve their habit. India as 500 wildlife sanctuaries and 92 national parks.
c) Under the forest Act, no one can are forest and `nonforest purposes’ without the permission of the government
d) Some special projection has been launched to protect endangered species.
e) India has set up 13 biosphere reserves under World Network of biosphere reserves.
f) No amount of international treaties and national laws can succeed in conserving wildlife unless the people are involved in the effort.