Humans and wildlife A
environment today is characterized by the conflict between wildlife
and humans. It is possible to reverse the situation only when
we would be able to share this planet with other species. There
are 10 to 30 million species who have equal rights to survive
on this earth. Some species like elephants need a lot of space.
But the ever-expanding agriculture and urbanisation have had
devastating impacts on their habitats. At the same time today
can we afford to set aside large landscapes for them!
we leave no space for wildlife and encroach further into their
homeland, the conflict will only increase. People grow crops
right inside the forests and these crops are not only nutritious
to animals but also easily available. So instead of eating forest
plants they eat the more palatable crops, which provide more
protein and minerals. Humans are unhappy with this and often
use force to drive some of the animals such as elephants away.
The elephants in turn become aggressive and start injuring people.
the old days local people knew how to deal with wild animals
but today the old rules have broken down. With the present rise
in the human population and the subsequent increase of urbanisation
one has to think whether Homo sapiens have a prospect of survival
in this planet.
to UN median population estimates the human population will
reach 9 billion by 2050 and the earth's biodiversity rich countries
in the tropics will have to cater to this ever growing population.
This means more conversion of wildland into cropland. Today
the earth is losing one species every year and if the recent
predictions for population and climate change come true, we
will lose more tropical forests, oceans will be without large
predators, many more species will go extinct.
are not only responsible for the disappearance of most life
forms and very many ecological units, but are responsible for
many of the catastrophes that we are experiencing today including
climate change. How long will humans be able to manipulate and
abuse the biosphere!
the increase of human population and with our the present attitude
towards wildlife issues, by 2050 a considerable number of species
will go extinct and many ecosystems will either disappear or
be severely reduced. This in turn will threaten the survival
of humans as a species.
conversion, exploitation and wild resources, and the impacts
of invasive and alien species will exert major influences on
smaller countries like ours. But this will ensure continuing
global biodiversity loss. Other risks are uncertainties and
our inability and ignorance and difficulty in assessing the
rate of extinction. We even don't know how to reverse the situation.
The current prediction is that about 3.5% (about 350 species)
of world's bird fauna will go extinct by 2050. In Bangladesh
we may well imagine how much we are going to lose. By now more
than 50% of our 1600 vertebrate fauna (fishes, amphibians, reptiles,
birds and mammals) are facing different categories of threats
Bangladesh we have failed to explore our marine resources and
others are using our share. We depend heavily on our terrestrial
and freshwater ecosystems to support 140 million people. So
inland fauna is under heavy pressure.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations
notes that at least an extra 120 million ha of agricultural
land will still be needed in developing countries by 2030. Large-scale
conversion has already been made and is on the increase in the
country. Moreover, our land is getting fragmented every day.
This has a serious impact on both wild flora and fauna. If this
trend continues words like JUNGLE and WILDLIFE will be the things
of the past in country in less than 25 years.
we look at our marine ecosystems, particularly at the coasts,
it has a wide range of anthropogenic and other pressures, including
siltation and eutrophication from land runoff, coastal development,
conversion for aquaculture, and impacts of climate change. The
country's only coral island, St Martin's Island, has already
been heavily degraded.
freshwater biodiversity has declined faster than either terrestrial
or marine biodiversity over the past 30 years. This is all the
more true in our country. In addition to population pressures,
pollution, siltation, canalisation, water abstraction, dam construction,
overfishing, and introduced species have played a role in the
process of this decline. Such changes in our ecosystem may invite
catastrophes like abrupt climate shifts.
must also think why we have deviated from our original practice
of living in harmony with nature. It's because we no longer
live in conditions natural for us. Today the human species is
living in captivity. So they are behaving unnaturally. Other
wild animals also behave unnaturally in captive condition. Without
any wild flora and fauna the whole country some day might become
a human zoo.
author is the Chief Editor UNB, Dhaka Courier and the Chairman,
Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh.