Saturday, 22 June 2019

Baby Animals

If you look into an animal baby's eyes, all you will see is this innocence, this overload of cuteness. Unaware of the dangers surrounding them, they are naturally curious, and playful, just like our kids. However, the survival rate among animal babies is pretty thin. Habitat loss, environmental changes due to climate change, poachers, lack of food and human-animal conflict is killing these babies rapidly.

In many national parks around the world, apex predators like tiger, cheeta, leopard, lion are named individually in order to identify them and track them and their bloodlines for conservation efforts. For many wildlife lovers, this also gives them a sense of closeness with these beautiful animals. In Indian national parks, some famous tigers are Machhli, Arrowhead (Machhli's daughter), Noor, Noorie (Noor's daughter), Kumbha, Maya, Matkasur, Madhuri, Munna, Jai, Veeru, Spotty, Solo and many more. But do you know these cute tiger cubs are not even named unless they are 1.5-2 yrs old!! Until they are 1.5-2 years old, their chances of survival is so low that even the park authorities, localites, researchers and wildlife lovers fear getting too attached to them too soon. Continuous habitat loss is reducing their survival chances every single day even more.

Can you imagine how the mother must be feeling? We can avoid naming them and not get too attached to them as we are bystanders. But can the mother do the same? Just because they are animals, don't they feel that same intense pain when they lose their kids? Or because they can't say it out loud, their loss is less painful? We love our babies, but this is what we are doing to millions of other babies around world.

Friday, 21 June 2019

A Visit to the Zoo

My first visit to zoo was a school trip and I couldn't stand that place as it was so dirty and smelly. At that age, I wasn't mature enough to understand if it was so uncomfortable for me, how would it be for the animals who are caged inside. 

I know many people will say that these days the zoos are well maintained and the animals don't even have to scourge for food, so they are lucky to be in the zoo, with free food and no competition. But there is no companionship and you are trapped without your consent, without any way out. Most importantly, we are killing the natural instinct of these animals. Is that the life we will ever wish for ourselves? 

In recent times, we heard that Aarey forest is being cut and as a solution, the government will build a world class zoo in that area. Do we realize the extent of atrocity of taking away the homes of the animals and putting them in cages? Is this the cost of human development that we lose our humanity? 

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Predator's Weapon

Tigers are master piece of the biggest artist, nature. Tigers, being predators, it is essential for their survival to be able to go undetected by their prey. Their yellow and black stipes, not just beautiful; but are the perfect camouflage in their habitat while stalking a prey. No matter how the habitat is, with tall green leafy trees or bamboo shoots or dried long grassland, it is not easy to spot a tiger from distance when it doesn't want to be spotted. Those who have seen a tiger in it's own habitat from up close, should feel lucky. Because the tiger chose to be seen, the tiger didn't feel threatened by us, so it chose to come close. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Silent Movie

Watching wildlife in their habitat is like watching a silent movie. If you spend enough time with them patiently and immerse yourself in their world, you will start seeing behavioral patterns, stories unfolding. And you have the creative freedom to interpret their stories however you want. Yours is just as good as someone else's. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Option We Need

Very common question these days is- beaches or mountains?
Both enigmatic in their own way, but both part of nature...
No one actually asks if your inner being is overjoyed by owning a house on 4th floor or 14th floor.

We all know at fundamental level that our true personality and our inner being is more aligned to a natural habitat. Yet we strive so hard to build that 14th floor house. Isn't it time we start listening to our own inner voice and focus on the beaches and mountains?

Monday, 17 June 2019

Bravery Unlimited

Birds have always been a source of fascination to me. How are such tiny bodies flying around? Look at the vastness of the sky, feel the cold hard earth and compare that to those fragile wings. The things they see and endure when they go to so many places.
What makes them so resilient and determined to keep flying, miles after miles? Such bravery in such a small heart!!!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Salmon and the ecosystem

A few years back I got the opportunity to visit one of the most famous fish markets in the world. I was awestruck by the variety of different seafood options available there. My less informed younger self could only understand its implication to my adventurous tastebuds. I couldn't fathom what it meant for anything else, like the environment. There were many species I had never even heard of. Who knows, may be there were some endangered species too, falling prey to the illegal seafood market or exploiting legal loopholes of 'Total Allowable Catch (TAC).

Endangered species are those who are at serious risk of extinction due to sudden rapid decline in population or loss of its critical habitat. For many of such species, only a handful are remaining in their wild habitat. But there could be some species at risk even if their number is still in millions. Their extinction could also have devastating consequences to the entire ecosystem. Let's take an example of Salmon.

According to WWF, there has been a 50% decline in atlantic salmon population over the last 20 years. Global atlantic salmon catch fell 80% from 1970 to 2000. What is causing this major decline in salmon population? Human activities. Salmon is considered to be a nutrient rich tasty elite food source for millions of people around the world. Millions of people's livelihood revolves around salmon and salmon harvesting all over the world, commercially and otherwise.

Salmon stay in ocean but come to river water to spawn. Commercial fisheries and fishermen around the globe use fish wheels to scoop out migrating salmon out of river water. Result of this over-fishing for decades - today less than 1% salmon come to river waters to spawn. Ocean and river pollution, global climate change also contribute to less reproduction ability in salmon. But how does this decline affect us except for our palate?

Salmon spends anywhere between 2-7 years in ocean environment before coming to river water to spawn and die. When they die, the rich nutrients of the depth of ocean is released in the environment. Salmon provides food and nourishment to not only aquatic plants, insects and other fish, but also the land environment on which we humans also survive. Many birds, bears and raccoons feast on salmon and when the fish is digested, the nutrients are distributed on the land in form of feces providing nourishment to the plants and trees. We take away this food, we take away the oxygen producing forests that depend on this fertilizer to grow.

Salmons don't only collect nutrients, they also collect pollutants from the ocean and concentrate them in their bodies, reducing ocean pollution affecting millions of other species.
The harmful effect of our own doing has now started to make its way back to us. We still have time to reverse this. After a while, it may well be too late to act.
Environmental Change & Challenge by Philip Dearden & Bruce Mitchell