The effect of the floods on the environment has not received the attention it deserves. Long after the flood waters have receded the land and the creatures that inhabit it will continue to bear the scars of this monumental disaster. Reports have indicated that flooding has displaced or killed animals that used to thrive in affected areas. In Sindh, environmental experts have stressed that if efforts are not made to protect animals like hog deers, wild boars, black bucks and jackals, their species could be pushed towards extinction.
Displacement, diseases, increased interaction with human beings and separation from their species could prove to be deadly for animals, causing them to become weak and disoriented. Animals who live on land are not the only ones affected — dolphins in the Indus could have been swept away by the floods and birds have had their nesting grounds disturbed. People have only focused on amount of livestock lost – recent figures place the number of cattle killed by flooding at over 200,000 in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa alone – but even the loss of animals that do not have such a direct impact on the economy will prove to be dire for us.
The delicate natural balance of our ecosystem will be destroyed if animals lose their natural habitats. If that is not enough to encourage us to act, another offshoot of this problem is that diseased or dead animals, when left to fend for themselves or rot in floodwater could accelerate the spread of disease in humans. So far displaced animals like the three confused bears spotted by villagers in K-P can only rely on the kindness of strangers to survive. Until the authorities or relevant organisations step in, there is little hope for these creatures. But for our sake as well as theirs, we need to speak for all the voiceless creatures that have been affected by the floods.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2010.
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