This World Animal Day, plant more trees to give animals their natural habitats back

The heedless land appropriation for industrial use continues to impinge upon animal habitats and cruel exploitation of wildlife and farm animals for commercial reasons is rampant, says Bikrant Tiwary, CEO, on World Animal Day on October 4.

The Day is an annual call for action and mobilisation for animal rights and welfare so that we can co-create a world where animals are recognised and respected as sentient beings and the co-inhabitants of our planet, he adds.

“The connection between thriving wildlife, rich biodiversity, balanced ecology and the well-being of humanity is rarely if ever understood. Respect for wildlife and animals is not an esoteric concept. It concerns all of us because animals inhabit forests, mountains, rivers, oceans, and deserts. How they are treated, directly and indirectly, impacts our ecosystem. When animal species are threatened, distressed or they become extinct, food chains are altered, biodiversity, food security, nutrition and dietary quality get impaired and our supply of diverse vitamins, minerals, and medicines also gets affected,” says Tiwary.

Animals, explains Tiwary, play a big role in stabilising ecosystems, pollinating crops and increasing the fertility of soil etc and if forests continue to make way for industries, countless species of birds, mammals and invertebrates will be displaced and endangered. He says, ” The pandemic has made the interconnectedness between us and wildlife very clear. Deforestation is one of the biggest reasons to endanger ecosystems and scientists have been issuing urgent warnings about the far-reaching impact of tree extinctions on people and wildlife as well. The State of the World’s Trees report published last year by Botanic Gardens Conservation (BGCI) BGCI, stated that about 60,000 tree species globally are at the risk of extinction.”

Tiwary says we would be mistaken to think that this catastrophe will only endanger animal species and not affect the way we live and work. He adds, “The World Economic Forum states that $44 trillion is tied to Nature and this year, a new paper by BGCI and the Global Tree Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s species survival commission (IUCN SSC), has stated that the world’s forests contribute $1.3tn (£1.1tn) to the global economy. So it is not just our wildlife that is under threat.”

Over the last decade, has planted millions of trees in the areas surrounding wildlife sanctuaries to not just protect these habitats but to prevent animal-human conflicts that endanger the livelihoods, economy and quality of life of local communities.

Tiwary says, “In developing countries like India, forests add to the household income of rural and tribal communities. When we plant trees to expand wildlife corridors, we also support local communities that are dependent on timber and forest produce. Trees not only augment the green cover essential for wildlife movement but also serve the purpose of carbon storage, stabilise soil and counter the adverse effects of storms and extreme weather events. “

Tiwary believes that unless we sensitise ourselves to the harmful consequences of intensive animal farming and industrial livestock production, we will not feel motivated to seek green solutions and ask for better environmental and climate policies as well as laws protecting wildlife.

The Wildlife Protection Act passed in 1972, offers protection to wild animals, birds and plants while Article 48-A of the Constitution, exhorts the State to safeguard the wildlife and forests of the country. Article 51-A confers a fundamental duty upon all citizens to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to possess compassion for living creatures yet the ground reality is unsettling. Animal abuse in tourist spots, for religious and social purposes, in farms and labs continues.

“Over the years, many laws have been passed to ban ivory trade, prohibit poaching and one such positive step was the State’s decision to outlaw dolphinariums in 2013 and ban cosmetics testing on animals in 2014 but we as citizens must also be mindful about our consumption patterns. We must understand that sustainable practices do not just preserve wildlife but also make better economic and environmental sense. To all those who love animals, I would say, plant more trees and join us in our mission to give back healthy and healed forests to their original inhabitants,” Tiwary adds.

Also read | 74 pc rural households receive water daily, 8 pc once a week: Study

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