Imagine a situation wherein dozens of human beings-irrespective of age, gender, lifestyle preferences and food habits- are all forced to live inside a medium-size (or even large) hall. Though grammatically we should not use the term ‘dozen’ while referring to humans, but here it is required to prove my point. What will be the outcome? Some will try to leave voluntarily, others might be forced out, and some may even suffocate to death- yes, it is possible. You must be wondering why I am giving this weird example. I shall explain myself. What with shrinking of ‘real forests’- including reserve forests, sanctuaries and even dedicated green areas left in urban and semi-urban societies with the very purpose of luring and sustaining biodiversity so that it does not go totally extinct even in a concretised world- there is an alarming shortage of actual land for the wild animals, birds, bees, insects, and other forms of life to survive in! Yes, you heard it right. Crores of saplings (not trees, please) planted annually are of no immediate use to them because they need fully developed biosphere. What do you think the various forms of lives – other than humans- would consume in a newly planted ‘forest’ that has been earlier depleted of its fully grown trees to meet the ever-rising demand for timber? Neither carnivores, omnivores nor herbivores stand a chance in this situation. The condition of birds – whose staple diet is insects for protein and leaves, seeds, flowers that they get from fully grown trees- is even worse. Then, farmers accuse them of damaging their crops. No animal or bird would do that if it can get food from its natural habitat. The situation for the territory-obsessed carnivores is even worse. Forced to live in an ever-shrinking territory, animal to animal conflicts is bound to happen, with the result that there are greater instances of wild animals intruding human settlements and even turning man-eaters. The man-animal conflict is our fault, not theirs. We first rob them of their habitat, then complain and kill. Wow!
Now you understand my earlier example? This is the case with our wildlife, in whichever form (even the monkeys are causing a menace because they have been driven out of their habitat and man has taken over). I have not even started about their nesting/breeding issues! What utter agony they must face- fear, uncertainty, helplessness and no help from the humans! The many ambitious projects of the government involve invading wildlife habitat even to an even greater extent. Be it Ken-Betwa interlinking, highway from UP to Uttarakhand, this circuit that circuit, bullet trains, various mining, power, and sea-involving projects all do just that. The new form of making money from the present sanctuaries by opening them to tourists is also causing even more restrictions and conditions on the wildlife. Poaching threats also thereby increase, no matter how much the forest departments claim to disagree. Why is there such a need to commercialise everything? There should be no compromise made where green cover, flora-fauna and nature are concerned. They are a responsibility, not a liability. We must protect them like we do our borders. And please stop illtreating our already shrinking green cover because no matter how many saplings you plant, they will take years to be of any real use. In the meantime, the existing biodiversity will perish. How can you not see that? No plans and strategies or eloquent speech will help. Wake before they fall into permanent sleep!
Saumya Misra, Editor