Special

Our Forests…Our Future

June 15, 2016


Each year World Environment Day is widely celebrated on June 5 in over 125 countries, since it began in 1974.

The United Nations focuses on a theme, especially on a pressing environmental concern that affects the entire Planet Earth. WED 2016 is themed on the illegal trade in wildlife under the slogan 'Go Wild for Life'. The value of illegal trade has been estimated at between ten and twenty five billion per year, making wildlife crime the fourth most lucrative illegal business after narcotics, human trafficking and weapons.

This year United Nations (UN) calls for a worldwide campaign to take a strong action to curb the illegal trade of wildlife that is threatening the biodiversity of our home planet. All types of wildlife including tigers, elephants, rhinos, whales, sharks, turtles are mercilessly killed and smuggled for ivory, horns, snake skins, animal parts, which are then used as status symbols, decorative items and folk cures. Ivory estimated to weigh more than 23 metric tons, a figure that represents 2500 elephants was seized in the 13th largest seizures of illegal ivory in 2011.

Poaching threatens the last of our wild tigers that number around 3000. In Kaziranga, the greater one horned rhino is threatened to extinction due to the myth that it can cure cancer. Although there is no scientific proof of its medical value, the horn is used in traditional Asian medicines, primarily for the treatment of a variety of ailments including epilepsy, fevers and strokes.

In many instances, the price of wildlife parts, rivals that of gold. Just like hot spots of biodiversity, we also have “Wildlife trade hotspots” around the world where wildlife trade is particularly threatening. They include China's international borders, trade hubs in East/Southern Africa and Southeast Asia, the eastern borders of the European Union, some markets in Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, parts of Indonesia and New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

The word “wildlife” normally conjures up images of large mammals like elephants, tigers, bears, lions and such large animals. The lower or lesser known animals are normally ignored and very little attention is paid to these which in effecthasan equally important role to play in the ecosystem. These lesser known animals, reptiles and amphibians too are exploited to a degree which is quite alarming and in some cases wiping out populations beyond a sustainable manner.

Not all wildlife trade is illegal. Each Country, under its wildlife Acts legally allows hundreds of species to be caught or harvested from the wild and then sold legitimately to the International market. However, this wildlife trade intensifies into a crisis when an aggregate proportion is illegal and unsustainable, there by threatening the survival of the biodiversity of the Planet.

Recently, a glimpse of the illegal multimillion dollar lizard (Tokay Gecko) trade came to light when authorities seized a large consignment of Gecko’s. Each one of the wall crawling animal is feared to carry a multimillion dollar price tag in the International market. A high price tag of over USD 2 million for each living one of over 300 gram weight makes the animal too vulnerable. Dried up body parts of the Gecko is believed to be aphrodisiac.

Each year we make it a point to visit Wildlife parks/ Game Reserves/ Sanctuaries to learn first-hand the state of our wildlife conservation. We provide wildlife pictures of our recent trip to the Tadoba Wildlife Sanctuary.

It is one of India’s 25 Project Tiger reserves. The Sanctuary is home to rare Indian wildlife such as leopard, sloth bear, gaur, wild dog, hyena, and species of Indian deer like sambar, cheetal, nilgai, and muntjac (barking deer). In our opinion, Tadoba is one among the few sanctuaries, where one gets a realistic chance of seeing tigers and other large predators at close range. We were very fortunate to realize our life time dream of seeing the tiger face to face in the wild.


Conclusion

Apart from loss of wildlife and ecosystem degradation, people involved in protecting the forest and its resources are also at risk due to poaching and trafficking. In our opinion, the weakest link in the chain of ending wildlife trafficking is the lack of cohesion between and among various Government departments. Intimidation, outdated laws, weak judicial systems and light sentences allow poaches to go Scott free. It does not send a strong message across.Instead poachers think that the illegal trade is low risk and the returns high.Ending the illegal trade in wildlife requires a concerted and cooperative effort between all departments involved and this is a far greater challenge in India which is exploited by the wildlife traffickers.


Acknowledgement

These wildlife pictures of the Indian Sub-Continent were shot by Ashley Rasquinha, joint managing director, Electropneumatics and Hydraulics, during our visits to Tadoba. Ashley is a naturalist and brings out a calendar on wildlife each year to help people understand the value of wildlife conservation.


Dedication

This article is dedicated to the memory of the Late Antony Rasquinha, Chairman and MD, Electropneumatics and Hydraulics for his kindness and devotion, and for his endless support. His selflessness will always be remembered. He had a passion for the outdoors and together, we visited many wildlife sanctuaries in India. He has left a profound impact on us.

 

Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives

 

By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira

Comment on this article

  • anita britto, Mangalore/Auckland

    Fri, Jun 24 2016

    Such an informative and thought-provoking article as always, Dr. Anand & Geeta with amazing pictures shot by Ashley. Thanks for the time you take to share your knowledge which is so well-researched on a topic which should be on Prime time TV and be given much more coverage. Hopefully articles like this will secure a future for the wild life on our planet who deserve to be a part of it as much as Humans do.

    Agree [2]

  • Allen Pais, Brisbane

    Mon, Jun 20 2016

    Dear Dr Anand & Geeta.

    Excellent capture & very rare photos ,It is un thinkable to even attempt to go on a journey that you have been,lot of pre planning,effort & dedication to plan a journey & physically witness these lovely animals.

    A very difficult task for the current generation to protect & multiply these animals of value that may go instinct due to pouching,climatic condition,increase in human population,land acquisitions,scarcity of food.there will have to be voluntary involvement of every individual to ensure some time is spent towards nature & animals that will soon be instinct,if adequate measures are not taken in a timely manner.

    The approach you have towards nature & animals is absolutely unprecedented,carry on with the work you do & you will always have great success & enjoyment in what you are contributing towards the environment.

    Good on you Mate & Good on Geeta to let you freely work on what keeps you Happy & smiling always,You also put a big smile to our face & our lives by demonstrating actively your knowledge by way of sharing through social media,who ever relishes your contribution & acts towards development will be definitely the main contributors for our children to have a better life in the next generation,it is about time that we all listen to you carefully rather than neglect your articles by not even writing a line of appreciation.

    I wish your articles are taken with utmost seriousness then we can work together & achieve -Allen Pais(Brisbane)

    Agree [4]

  • ibrahim, Mangaluru

    Mon, Jun 20 2016

    Timely addressing this issue will raise the concern of saving the rain forests and letting animals live peacefully.
    However, what is really happening now in some cities like Bengaluru is they clean the forests making room for housing colonies and you will see monkeys hanging aound on windows and roofs, leopards attacking cows, snakes visiting neighborhood homes
    However, one more issue need to be addressed
    In a country like America where living standards are much better than us, they collect the text books from students and utilize the same books for next batch, where as in Indian schools students are buying new text books every year. The trees utilized to print the new text books every year may be millions. In middleeast Indian schools schools sell text books and students have to buy new books
    Save trees, save wildlife, save parents hard earned money by reusing old text books

    Agree [3]

  • geoffrey, hat hill

    Fri, Jun 17 2016

    Content of this write up doesn’t really seem to be complementing the intent. Once upon a time, prior to the advent of TV channels like NatGeo, Discovery and Animal planet such information was available only in NatGeo magazine and I still remember the enthusiasm of school children to flip through the pages of these magazines during recess in school libraries as few only copies used to be available. But now the things have changed. Instead of giving more emphasis to things like modus operandi of poachers and the prevailing market price of animal parts (which in fact might have an adverse effect of enticing more to this trade!), if more scientific information on the consequences of such human behavior with clear examples is shared, may be it’d be more effective.

    Agree [5]

  • Dr. Urban D'Souza, Professor, Udyavar/Malaysia

    Thu, Jun 16 2016

    A very good piece information on our wild life. Dr Anand and Geeta, very good job from your side. Natural photographs are really great. Please continue to educate us on nature and environment. Just to inform you, we met in Sahyadri college during our sons CET document verification. Hope you remember. Wish you all the best

    Agree [5]

  • Francis J. Saldanha, Moodubelle / Bahrain

    Thu, Jun 16 2016

    Even though at times it will be difficult to undertake trips down to some of the best known wild life sanctuaries in India but reading articles from Dr. Anand & Dr. Geeta, the clarity of the pictures of the wild animals in their natural habitats Wow! As always the Dr. Pereira’s are one of those rare couples who are not only provide us the thought-provoking articles from time to time but a real message too, is praiseworthy. The articles based on these amazing natural world realities are well thought out ones too…thank you for highlighting the real issues related to wild life conservation in India.

    Agree [7]

  • Joe Britto, Nakre/Bangalore

    Wed, Jun 15 2016

    What a eye opener about our Forests by Dr Anand & Dr Geetha .
    Pictures by Ashley are out of this world.
    The very definition of Forest, Wetlands , Biodiversity are all being changed by those in Authority who really matter fro the Future of our greatly depleted Forests, Flora & Fauna.
    Loss of wild life is happening right under the very nose of those in Authority in the Forests. Very soon animals will have only Cities to live in .

    Agree [11]

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Wed, Jun 15 2016

    Future of our forests does look bleak.
    "Apart from loss of wildlife and ecosystem degradation, people involved in protecting the forest and its resources are also at risk due to poaching and trafficking."
    It's a conclusion you have drawn Dr Anand and Madam Geetha...However, I was shocked to read today that a 'protector' of forests in Assam (a Baabu) turned out to be a big poacher!
    All said and done , I think it's time we wake up to grim reality facing us with wild animals roaming
    freely around in some cities and villages due to wide spread devastation of forests.

    Agree [9]

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