Wildlife refers to undomesticated animal species, including all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans and are untouched by human factors.
“Wild animals, plants and marine species are as important as humans”.
Distinct forms of wildlife found in all ecosystems: deserts, forests, rain-forests, plains, grasslands, oceans, Himalayas and other areas, including urban. Wildlife helps keep the food chain in place and thereby maintain a healthy ecological balance and the stability of the various natural processes on this earth.
“Wildlife plays an important role in balancing the environment, providing stability to different processes and systems of the nature, and we are also a part of wildlife to make ecological balance on earth”.
The benefits of wildlife to human include pollination, nutrient cycling, pest control, food chain balance and many other factors. The greatest ecological values of wildlife are provided by a largely intact, healthy ecosystem - one that is capable of supporting significant populations of wild animals and particularly large vertebrates. An ecosystem is a community of natural bodies that live and work together in an interconnected web for survival, and human health is strongly linked to the health of ecosystems. Killing of carnivores leads to an increase in the number of herbivores which in turn affect the forest vegetation and agricultural crops.
“In spite of all that wildlife have given us, and in spite of how beautiful, complex, and magnificent they may be, many forms are increasingly at risk of extinction”.
In this Anthropocene era, humans dominate 70% of the landmass on our planet not covered by ice, and our population numbers are soaring above 7 billion. It was estimated that, because of the age of humans in 50 years’ time, 50% of wildlife are lost today 2020 comparatively with that was in 1970.
“The rapid loss of species we are witnessing today is estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. Humans are killing wildlife and ecosystems in an unprecedented extermination commonly referred to as ‘the sixth extinction’” - IUCN
Habitat destruction, overpopulation, deforestation, consumerist culture, over exploitation, pollution, resource depletion, and climate change are some of the factors contributing to wildlife extinction in addition to poaching, hunting and traffic of wildlife. In Asia and Africa alone some of our largest magnificent and spectacular wildlife: tigers, rhinos, elephants are on the brink of extinction along with many lesser-known species, some of which have already been and for many other species non availability of data. To highlight a few in global scenario:
- In 2014 poachers killed as many as 35,000 elephants for their tusks.
- Roughly over 100 million lives of sharks each year are cost for their fins for luxury dining and the demand is increasing.
- The only place on earth where rhinos, tigers, elephants, and orangutans all co-exist is the Sumatran forests, currently being destroyed at a rapid pace.
- The trade in endangered wildlife species for fur, jewelry, meat and leather has become a billion-dollar global market, ranking with guns and drugs as among the most insidious black markets.
“Illegal wildlife trade undermines the rule of law and threatens national security. Wildlife traffic is the 4th largest transnational criminal activity in the world next to: drugs, human and counterfeit goods”.- Traffic & WWF
Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report (2019) from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point”
“The Report reveals that around 1,000,000 animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history”
The report provides an ominous picture, that, the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global.
“Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals”.
By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.
“In this century, ecosystems are either being fragmented or eliminated, and the extinction of several species has increased dramatically as a result of human activities. The fragmentation, degradation, and loss of habitats are irreversible and pose a serious threat to biological diversity, harming our own wellbeing. Hence, conservation of biodiversity is, therefore, it is not only a national priority, but global as well” - MoEF&CC.
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live” - Albert Einstein
In addition, to avoid a possible, disconnect between youth and wildlife, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Parties have called for increased participation of youth in wildlife management and trade in general. Also the IUCN Species Survival Commission recently launched the Reverse the Red campaign which aims:
“to ignite optimism and collaborative action to guarantee the survival of all species we share this planet with, and the ecosystems they live in. Reverse the Red means to reverse the declining trajectory of species and ecosystems in the Red List and to empower communities around the world to make this happen”.
APSCC conceptualized this program that centers around ‘conserving the fauna of concern’ with the objective: ‘Participatory Approach - youth in wildlife management and trade’ fostering the UN Decade on Biodiversity themes – ‘Living in Harmony with Nature’ & ‘Ecosystem Restoration’. This program provides, a ‘choice-based, student and public centered conservation network’ as a tool, to cover multiple faunas of concern:
- Sea Turtle
- Monitor Lizard
- Honey bee
The following are some of the anticipated outcome:
- Awareness to public and youth
- Multiple stakeholders’ participation
- Mapping the existing fauna of concern
- Prevention of poaching, illegal trade, traffic
- Strengthening enforcement
- Habitat restoration
Complements the following SDGs