Not only climate change but poverty, life style and demography affecting biodiversity: Dr. A. Johnsingh

It is not only climate change which is posing threat to the biodiversity moreover poverty, life style like food habits and changing demographic factors were also posing threat to fast decline in the native flora and fauna across the world. This was stated by Dr. A.J.T. Johnsingh of Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore and WWF-India while delivering key note address on the theme of biodiversity conservation in human-dominated landscapes at two day long function organised by the Wild Institute of India, Dehradun and administration of Great Himalayan National Park at Sairopa near Banjar of Kullu on Feb 11 and Feb 13, 2017.

 

Doweling on the issue of emerging challenges to the biodiversity  in the world, Dr. Johansingh said that Bio-geographic zones of India which have varying human population density, ecosystem variables and biodiversity values and conservation scenario varies from zone to zone are some of debatable issues before the concerned humanity to mitigate its adverse affect. He said that the increasing human population density and demo-graphical changes are adversely affecting biodiversity as it depends upon the food habits, lifestyle and economic status of the people and productivity of the habitat.

 

Terming the non violent religious practices by Hindus, Buddhist and other cult a boon to the conservation of biodiversity Dr. Johnsingh said that meat-eating lifestyle, whether it is in a wildlife habitat or in a non-wildlife habitat, could have much greater impact on the biodiversity. He however said that yet western world because of their low population density and well-managed wildlife areas is keeping their wildlife populations intact as populations of many species like the lynx, brown bear, wolf, moose and bison in Europe are increasing there and  similarly Grizzly bear in north America is maintaining its population.

 

Warning the wild life authorities in the Indian continents that poverty is a great threat to biodiversity and the situation is different in Asia especially in South Asia. Pakistan having population density of 235 persons/sq.km with 4.8 per cent forest cover has lost tiger, lion, cheetah, rhino (two reintroduced in 1983 from Nepal) swamp deer and hangul. Bangladesh with highest population density fo 1400/sq.km and 11 pc forest cover  has lost buffalo, gaur, Javan rhino, hog deer, swamp deer and sambar.

 

He said that in India with density of 382 persons per square kilo meter with  24 p c forest cover has lost Javan and Sumatran rhino, cheetah, the next large species to become extinct could be Great Indian bustard, hangul and brow-antlered deer. The last two occur as single population. Bhutan with 20 persons persq.km, and 73 p c forest and Sri Lanka  with 325 person per sq.km and 27 pc forest and Nepal with 180 persons per square kilometer and 25 per cent forest have not lost any large animal.He said that Nepal possibly had pygmy hog in the past. Myanmar with 80 person per square kilometer 48 per cent forest cover may have lost its Javan rhino, Sumatran rhino may be critically endangered Banteng, Sumatran Rhino Javan Rhino and Pygmy Hog.

 

He concluded that it was Britishers which had carried number of exotic species of plant and animals, ruined the local species critically. He gave the instance of Lantana, Eucalyptus, Popular etc which dominated on the native species and causing ecological invasion in most ecological zones. He highlighted that there are numerous other plant and animals which were close to the Britishers and invaders who could be consider invasive as alien invasive mammal species in India is the Norwegian brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) posing threat to the peasantry and  two species of alien fishes have contributed to the decline of our fresh water fishes.

 

He added  that Mouth breeding tilapia (Oreochromis mossambica) and the recently introduced carnivorous cat fish (Clarias gariepinus) are the two worst examples as the cat fish is easy to cultivate, grows fast (wastes from slaughter houses are fed) and the greedy and the ignorant farmers cultivate them. When it gets into native aquatic habitats local fishes are eaten up. Both are from Africa, feeding on cat fish is unhealthy for humans. He said that it preyed on the seedlings of Salamander and trout acting like weeds in the pond, he added.

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