What is WildLife ?
‘Wild animal’ means any non-domesticated animal found wild in nature. It includes both vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) and invertebrates (bees, butterflies, moths, crustaceans, etc.). Also Importance of Wildlife :- Wildlife helps in maintaining the balance of nature.. In Webster’s Dictionary, ‘wild life’ is defined as ‘living things that are neither human nor domesticated, especially mammals, birds and fishes hunted by man.” The term ‘wild life’ includes animals as well as plants which form part of any habitat in nature.
Some wild animals are so characteristic that they become symbols of their home countries. Thus, tiger is associated with India, white bear with Russia, Giant Panda with China, Kangaroo with Australia, Kiwi with New Zealand and springbok with South Africa.
To Save our planet from destruction we really need to understand the importance of wildlife.
Importance of Wildlife
Why do we need to protect our wild life from extinction? Wild life is a source of danger to human life. It is a nuisance to a farmer because it often destroys his crops. The domestic livestock is denied grazing ground in sanctuaries and reserves for wild life. Similarly, the hunters are denied recreation by shooting wild life. Even then conservation of wild life becomes necessary and of great importance due to its many values to mankind.
1. Ecological importance
- For a millennium, man and wild animals have evolved together on this planet, called Earth. All life on earth is one and all living things are inextricably interlinked (food chains) forming ecosystems. Destruction of wild life may cause upset in the ecological balance or equilibrium resulting in severe consequences. Thus, protection of every animal species is of great importance to the quality of life and to the survival of man himself. By rendering the planet uninhabitable for animals, we will not be able to avoid extinction ourselves.
2. Economic importance
- Wild life forms an important natural resource. Unlike coal or petroleum which is nonrenewable, wild life is also a renewable resource. With proper care and management, it can yield good dividends and even earn foreign exchange. The commercial value of wild life is best seen in the world’s marine fisheries, with an annual output of about 100 million tons of sea food worth billions of rupees. Freshwater fish and other aquatic creatures also provide large amount of food for people. Wild life of dry land mainly contributes to the food of the so-called primitive people of the world. An entire industry, the fur trade is supported by fur-bearing animals. Trade in live as well as dead animals supports thousands of people and also earns foreign exchange. For example, an Indian rhino may fetch equivalent of Rs. 1,25,000 in the world market. Similarly, the ivory of elephants, the horns of rhinoceros, the glands of musk deer, the antlers of deer etc., all command high prices. Wild life of a country may even attract people from abroad and earn foreign exchange. Thus, the tourist industry of Kenya (East Africa), based on its wild life, ranks third after coffee and sisal.
3. Game value
- Wild life has its worth as game also. In several European and American countries, millions of people hunt or fish for recreation, spending billions of dollars on these sports.
4. Scientific value
Scientific studies of many of the wild life species are of direct value to humans. Thus, sea urchins have helped greatly in the understanding of human embryology. A desert toad has helped in early determination of pregnancy. Rhesus monkeys have contributed to the present knowledge of human blood groups. Antlers of deer help in determining the degree of radioactive contamination of natural environments. Armadillo contributed to the development of vaccine for Leprosy. We do not know when some obscure wild animal species may be shot to prominence by providing a clue to human health and survival.
5. Asthetic value
There is a great worldwide aesthetic value of wild life because of their sheer beauty and appeal to the human spirit. A world without melodious birds, graceful beasts and rupturous forests would be a poorer place for humans to live in. Without wild animals, a countryside looks dead, static monotonous and like a picture postcard. People feel pleasure, satisfaction and happiness in the presence of wild life.
- A visit to the parks and sanctuaries is an enjoyable proposition for children as well as adult. Thus, wildlife is best means of recreation.
7. Cultural importance
- The wildlife of India has rooted effects on religion, art, sculpture and literature. Many mythological stories and children’s stories are based on wildlife.
8. Importance in agriculture
- Wild organisms are very important for modern agriculture. Importance of wildlife in agriculture field are as follows :
1. Production of new hybrid variety using wild plants.
2. Production of better hybrid variety of animals used for agriculture using wild animals.
3. New species of plants and animals can be produced by them.
Brief History of Indian WildLife
- Man has been interested in wild animals since the dawn of civilization. He hunted them for food and clothing, observed them for joy and heard the melodious notes of birds for pleasure.
- In India, the idea of protection and preservation and importance of wildlife has been an integral part of religion and culture since very ancient times.
- The Vedas include hymns in praise of animals and the Indian Mythology is full of references to several Animal-like Gods such as the monkey headed Hanuman, elephant-headed Ganesh, boar headed Varahavatar, lion-headed Narasinghavatar, turtle-like Koormavatar, fish-like Matsyavatar, snake-like Shesh Nag, etc.
- We also learn about snake worship (Nag Pooja), eagle worship (Garuda), cow worship (Lord Krishna), and vehicles of Shiva (Bull Nandi), Saraswati (swan), Ganesh (rat), etc. In ancient India, hermitages (ashrams) were the sanctum sanctorums (holy retreats) in the holy environs of which the hunting of animals was totally prohibited.
- Kautilya’s Arth shastra of third century B.C. proclaims severe punishment for killing, entrapping or molesting animals in protected areas (sanctuaries). Ashoka the Great enacted laws for the protection of fauna in his kingdom as early as the third century B.C. However, the condition of our wild life rapidly deteriorated first under the Mughul rule and later under the British rule, when mad slaughter of animals became the fashion of die day. Temur and Babar killed thousands of rhinoceroses which were abundant in Kashmir and Northern India. Colonel Pollock, a military engineer of British East India Company in Assam, shot a rhino or buffalo almost daily for breakfast. A former Raja of a state in Madhya Pradesh, probably held the world record for killing the highest number of tigers (1170).
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