Wildlife under threat

Prof R D Gupta

To a layman, wildlife refers to  ferocious animals like elephants, tigers, lions etc. which live in the forests. However, technically the wildlife comprises all the undomesticated animals and uncultivated plants. More simply, the wildlife means all the living things that dwell in the natural conditions of environment.
The nature has bestowed with us a very rich heritage of wildlife. The Indian subcontinent harbours various kinds of wild fauna and flora due to its unique geographical position vis-a-vis wide variability in climate and geological makeup. Wildlife is, indeed, a great benefactor of humanity with much aesthetic and recreation values as well as cultural magnitude. Commercial value of wildlife is best seen in the world marine fishery which yields more than 100 million tonnes of food worth millions of US dollars. The tourist industry has also a considerable economic gain when the tourists from abroad come to watch the magnificient wild animals in their natural niche. These days, however, it is a great pity that many of the wildlife species are in great trouble, which require to be protected by all means not only to maintain the “National Heritage’’ but also ecological balance.
Endangered wildlife species
Owing to great diversity in the climate, altitudinal variations and geological formations, the Jammu and Kashmir state has led to an ideal environment for rich variety of wild animals. The State of Jammu and Kashmir has also a rare distinction of being inhabited by fauna of both the oriental and the Eruopean genera. The rare mammals of the state consist of Kashmir stag (hangul), the musk deer, the Tibetan, antelope, the markhor (Wild goat) snow leopard,  brown bear etc. Jammu and Kashmir too  sustains a rich avifauna assemblage and offers breeding ground to  a large number of birds. However, due to heavy biotic pressure, the habitats of many wildlife species have been disturbed bady. Not only this, illegal poaching, indiscriminate grazing of the pastures, and vehmently tree felling have been much increased. All these  causes/factors have become the potent sources for the declining of a number of wildlife species. The population of the hangul has been reduced to such an extent that the “World Wildlife Fund’’ has included this species in the Red Data Book of the endangered species.
The poachers and the timber thirsty people have ruthessly harmed the habitat of snow leopard also due to which their number has also been reduced considerably. Presently, markhor appears to be an endangered species. Similar is the situation of the musk deer and yak.
Like higher reaches of the state, the Siwaliks of Jammu, especially its Kandi belt are devoid of a number of wildlife species.  About six decades ago, Kandi belt of Jammu had a large number of wildlife species like tiger cheetah, neel gai, wild boar, as well as birds like peacock, pea hen, crow, sparrows, quails and many other birds. However, these days, the Kandi belt had less number of these aniamls and birds. The number of jackal, fox and crow have so much reduced that these birds were placed in schedule 5th of the red data book and later on shifted to schedule Ist and hence are considered the endangered species of  birds.
Reason for Reduction
The rapid growth of human population is compiling rapid development such as construction of roads, railway tracks, buildings, industrial complex new projects, tunnels, canals, ploughing of lands for agriculture / horticulture are consuming large portion of forest cover.
Trees are also felled for  residential buildings and for obtaining timber. Timber, infact, is such an item without which no construction work is complete. The process of deforestation, thus, starts and there is  so ruthless felling that even the immature and very young trees are cut.
As the demand for timber, fuel woodo, and fodder increases then the forests are cleared, wild animals including birds become homeless. The process of animal and bird migration starts and in this process many of them die on account of non availability of suitable habitats. In the new environment  the animals are further exposed to several risks to their lives in indiscriminate poaching.
Besides habitat destruction, hunting, killing and poaching of the animals and birds are the other main causes of their dwindling number.
The insecticides used in agriculture and horticulture  not only contaminate environment but also interfere with the metabolism and accumulate poison in the body of the animals. The effect of insecticides on wildlife involves a number of factors such as toxicity and persistence of given compound stability as it is transferred to the food chain, type of vegetation in which it is applied and species of wildlife.
Wildlife diseases is another factor responsible for the extinction of wildlife species. Ticks take a heavy toll of the animals by causing and transmitting serious ailments ultimately causing their deaths.
Abuse of the nature, world over not only causes ecological degradation and reduction of wildlife species but also that of  plant species and macro /micro-organisations. To be ecologically and environmentally sound, it means to treat the objects of nature-living and nonliving with great kindness and respect.
The concept of protecting /preserving the wildlife in India  is not new but it is as old as Indian civilization. Almost all religions have given credence to a  non-violent “Ahimsa’’ have given credence to a non violent “Ahimsa’’ and harmonious relationship based on love and kindness. If wildlife exploitation continues as mentioned above, we would just have a world  without the buck, the deer, the elephant and even the small inconsciousness yet beautiful insect creatures of the world. So, first place of the wildlife preservation, is to stop poaching and hunting and then comes the development  of more number of National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserves where the threatened wildlife species could be preserved.
As already stated that habitat destruction is the main reason of wildlife depletion in whole of the country including the state of Jammu and Kashmir, so the habitat has to be ameliorated by all means. For this purpose, deforestation must be stopped. The forests, which are without wildlife , a few wildlife species must be released in them. Deforested areas need to be reforested.
Shooting of wild animals must be totally stopped, and   it is not possible, it should be allowed merely in rare cases,  especially for game birds and game animals, and it should be only during  non-breeding time or season.
Creation of water holes for drinking water purposes and raising plantations for the species for the herbibore animals feed.
For protecting /preserving wildlife species, wildlife management staff must have an exact idea with regard to the habitat requirement which the wildlife species require. For  this purpose, wildlife management staff must be deputed for an advanced training requirements.

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