I was asked this week to explain why I think it is important to save wildlife. I now share my take on that question with you because, whether you believe that all of us simply deserve a chance at survival or not, the harsh reality is that saving wildlife will help secure the survival of us all in the longterm. And here’s why …
I have been fortunate in my lifetime. I saw my first dolphin, whale, eagle, lizard, crocodile and so many other amazing creatures at a very young age thanks to a family scattered across the planet. And my most enduring childhood memories are associated with the exhilarating joys, heat, sights, sounds and smells of the tropical rainforest when visiting my grandparents in Guyana, located at the northern tip of South America.
Others deserve to experience the wonders I have seen. Yet many of them are threatened thanks to man’s past indifference to destroying the natural world around us so freely all in the name of progress (or worse, profit).
With so many challenges facing us today, it is natural for some to ask why protecting wildlife should be a priority? My instinctual response is simply that it exists and deserves to remain in existence every bit as much as us.
Whether man, panda, or poodle in despair, helping a creature in need, but particularly the innocent threatened through no fault of their own, is always the right thing to do.
All of us on this earth should have the right to live freely and we should do so with respect for our neighbours, no matter what species, what colour, what country origin, nor whether possessing two, four or 100 legs – or none at all. And we all deserve a chance for survival.
While some lifeforms will come and go as part of the natural evolutionary cycle, there is no doubt man has been responsible for the decline of many species. Our exploding population has destroyed many a habitat (sometimes unwittingly, sometimes with blatant disregard) in its quest for shelter, food, and energy. As a species we would never have survived had it not been for the natural resources provided by this planet, resources we have learnt to exploit so freely, as if they belonged solely to us.
But that exploitation has also gone beyond our need to survive. As fashion accessories, fine furniture, expensive gifts or so-called herbal remedies, our wildlife and natural resources have been treated as just another profit-making expendable asset.
This planet does not belong just to us, and it is the very fact we have ignored this in the past which now puts us all at risk. Today we live in a world dominated by climate change, a direct result of man’s exploitation of our natural resources. It puts the very survival of all of us, human and non-human alike, in jeopardy.
We have to find solutions before it’s too late.
Moving towards a low carbon economy powered by greater use of renewable energy and cutting our own energy use at home or work (saving us money in the process) is of course essential. But the animals and plant life that co-exist with us have a vital role to play too.
They keep our ecosystem in balance while habitats like tropical rainforests act as vital carbon sinks, absorbing the most damaging of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide. Without protecting them, the fight against climate change can never be won. That’s simple, harsh, reality.
So for all of us, our very survival as a species, both in the physical sense and the spiritual, depends on protecting and sustaining the remaining natural habitats of this planet and with them the wildlife and communities that call them home.
PS. The people who asked me this question work for the marvellous NGO, the World Land Trust. To find out more about the vitally important work they do visit their website at http://www.worldlandtrust.org/
Image above © Gail Shameza Rajgor. See more photos here