Preserving wildlife

Preserving the environment and forests remains an uphill battle for wildlife enthusiasts as well as conservationists.


Letter March 02, 2014

CHICAGO: This is with reference to Rina Saeed Khan’s article carried on February 26 “Pakistan’s fast disappearing forests”. Population explosion is putting persistent pressure on our environment and forests. It is true that some countries have done better at conserving their forest wealth. This is, however, merely relative to how other countries have performed on this count. On estimate, I think that the forest cover in Pakistan will be no more than five per cent. In India, it is a little better at 20 per cent but as an Indian, it is worrying for me that this figure is down from the approximately 35 per cent forest cover that the country had at the time of independence.

A lot has been done to counter deforestation in India, but it is clearly inadequate. India was the only country in the world which was home to all the big cats — lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs and snow leopards. By the time of independence in 1947, the cheetah was already extinct. Today, India remains the last remaining home for the Asiatic Lion that numbers a mere 250 and are confined to a single area covering hardly 500sq kilometres. A single outbreak of disease can make this species extinct. The fate of the tiger is marginally better because all 1,800 of them are spread across at least 15 states. With over 60 per cent of the world’s tigers, India could well determine if the species survives or goes extinct. The use of Diclofenac, a banned veterinary drug, has even made scavengers like vultures almost extinct. Preserving the environment and forests remains an uphill battle for wildlife enthusiasts as well as conservationists.

Feroz Daruwala

Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2014.

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