Rapid population growth in the South Asian region poses a great threat to wildlife, as natural habitats are destroyed and human populations occupy the space.
In today’s world, how many people actually care about extinct or endangered species? Hardly a few. People rarely pay attention to any issue unless it affects them. This cold, robotic attitude towards wildlife has increased the miseries of the poor creatures manifold. Such an apathetic approach needs to be changed. But any change in public perception and behavior towards wildlife demands a better understanding of the issue.
In the South Asian region, many endangered animals are fast disappearing due to ruthless poaching. One such animal is the Asian elephant, which is being killed in large numbers for its ivory tusks and hide. It is believed that the ivory of Asian elephants is far better in quality than that of African elephants which is creating an increasing demand for tusks of Asian elephants.
Research on the subject blames poaching for the killing of 40 to 70 percent of male elephants. This is a figure that should not be taken lightly.
Hides of elephants also have a high monetary value. As a result, more and more elephants are being killed as governments and wildlife protection departments turn a blind eye to the problem. If necessary steps are not taken to put an end to this poaching, slogans such as “don’t let the sun set on the Asian elephant” will soon become echoes from the past, as they will only recall poor decisions and regrets.
Another favorite target of poachers is the Bengal Tiger which is killed for its skin and other body parts which are used to make traditional medicines in many Asian countries. Found in parts of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar, the Bengal Tiger is also at the verge of extinction due to excessive poaching.
When it comes to birds, Pakistan is a favorite hunting ground for rare birds. Quail, pheasants, houbara bustards, black partridges, white partridges and ducks are the most sought-after and the most hunted birds.
In many cases, the hunters are Arab princes from the Gulf states, who are issued hunting permits by the government of Pakistan. They are allowed to hunt in locations where the birds are found. Their hunting methods also vary and can be cruel at times as trained falcons are used to kill birds.
Although there are set bag limits for hunting rare birds, the high and the mighty hardly follow them and are seemingly at liberty to flout rules at will.
According to a report that appeared in a Pakistani newspaper, in 2007 alone, 31 licensees were allowed a limit of 200 hunts each. It can be safely assumed that a minimum of 6200 birds were killed or trapped in that year.
Rapid population growth in South Asia also poses a major threat to wildlife, since wildlife habitats are destroyed as towns and cities spread. Hardly any care or concern is shown to preserve wildlife sanctuaries.
A highly ignored aspect regarding animals is their use in circuses and in fighting arenas. In these so-called leisure activities, the poor animals are forced to perform difficult, dangerous, and, at times, violent tasks.
No one bothers to think about the conditions in which circus animals are kept or cares about the methods that are used to train them. What happens to these animals once the show is over is another story. In most cases, circus trainers treat the poor creatures cruelly. Also, circus animals are not provided with a healthy and adequate supply of food and water. They are kept in cages, most of which are of the wrong size or the animals are chained up for long hours. Several countries such as Bolivia, Greece and Belgium have imposed a ban on the use of animals in circuses. India is also considering this option.
While there may be other issues that people find more relevant and worthy of attention, the importance of wildlife cannot be ignored. The media needs to create awareness among the masses of issues such as poaching, mistreatment of animals, hunting of rare species of birds, deforestation and other similar problems. In fact, much more, needs to be done – and soon – as time is running out.