Dr. Satyabrata Ghosh, M. Sc., Ph. D.
Ex Associate Professor of Botany (Microbiology)
Ex Associate Professor of Botany (Microbiology)
S. C. College, Habra, 743268, West Bengal, INDIA
BIODIVERSITY & WILD LIFE
REVELATIONS TO BE SHARED WITH
Introspective Portraiture – Through this communication I intend to reveal and share the ideas and experiences that have been gathered over decades, on the necessity of and the protocols for the conservation of Ecological Niches, Flora and Fauna, Natural Resources and Biodiversity in India. While working on certain aspects of Microbiology (bacterial and fungal enzymes, microorganisms in the faecal matters of herbivores and carnivores, antimicrobial medicinal plants etc.), Wild Life Conservation and Biodiversity of various Wild Life Sanctuaries (WLS) and National Parks (NP) in India (since post-graduation in 1976), I had to travel extensively to visit Reserve Forests (RF), WLSs and NPs in search of samples, specimens and information before these were finally processed and analyzed in the laboratory. Merely a few of the findings of those projected work have been published in the Peer Reviewed Journals of International Repute and much more remains to be done.
This poor list of publication never haunts me. Inadequacies of data to publish papers and photographs never have frustrated me. Walking through the woods in the wilderness and every now and then peeping over the bushes, watching birds, insects and every other animal in the view and taking snap shots at will, without having any basic training in photography, are part of my life in the woods and compose my leisure, hobby and passion. I have always been thrilled by every moment of looking at pug marks, hoof prints and claw marks on tree trunks. My passion for wild life and plants makes me always inquisitive whenever I see the scars left by wild grazers on a grass, on a sapling or on the twigs in the bushes while failing most of times to know the grazer. It would not be inappropriate to confess here that being not an expert and being devoid of microscopes, tools and manuals during the field tours, most of times many species of the trees and grasses remain unidentified as the specimen collection (for later identification in the laboratory) was not always possible. The problem is more acute with very tall and large canopy forming flowering trees of deliquescent growth where even the lowermost branch with a flowering twig remains beyond reach.
From my point of view, every part and phase of research work is enjoyable and is encouraging when it becomes a hobby and a passion. Every bit of the findings, whether in laboratory or in the field, tells me a story and to tell the world these stories is altogether a different story. Publication is necessary only when something new pops up in the findings, which can change the course of our life and our standard of living without harming our natural habitats, when it can influence our way of thinking and opens up new avenues and only when it can add to the processes of ensuring the protection and conservation of nature and natural resources. Research is the backbone of the social way of living of modern humans. More and more research has no alternative to save this unique ‘blue planet’ from complete devastation, to minimize the rate of increase in human population to the lowest possible level, to eradicate poverty from our society, to find an alternative and absolutely effective source of energy so as to put a blanket – ban on ‘carbon emission’ and to restore our natural resources.
Do you share these emotions? Well, then you are my company – we are the team.
Funding! We don’t have for now – Although there is no dearth of funds from the funding organizations in India and no lack of willingness and effort on part of Government of India to support the projects on biodiversity, no fund could be harnessed because of lot of factors. To study biodiversity, flora and fauna or wild life an extensive travelling is required. Observation over prolonged period is inevitable and is unavoidable prerequisite while working in any National Parks, Wild Life Sanctuaries and Reserve Forests. Repeated and consecutive visit over years to these areas is always necessary to ascertain the reliability of the data. The time schedules, in these cases, were indefinite, uncertain and undefined. This reality comprises the prime factor for not availing any fund as no ‘funding organization’ could grant the fund for uncertain or indefinite period. Furthermore, the college authority, where I was working, was not in a position to grant me leave as and when required for this purpose, and ethically it was never possible to deprive our students of their curricular activities as per their schedules. The Summer Recess (15th May – 30th June) and Puja Vacation (mostly during early or mid – October) here (in this southern part of West Bengal) could never be utilized properly as because most of these forest areas remain closed and inaccessible during this seasons (Summer – Rains) in India. However, research work was carried out utilizing parts of holidays, recesses and vacations, in a discrete manner, on a year to year basis.
We do not always need fund to carry out research on certain aspects of biodiversity and wild life, and for wild life photography. It can be made possible from the pleasure trips to the wilderness. Do we demand funding for our pleasure trips? Do you still think we can be companions in our ‘wild – trips’ without any financial assistance? Well then, get your back pack ready. Soon we will be on our track following a tiger trail.
Biodiversity Research – let it take its own course of time – For these obvious reasons a particular phase of work, on the biodiversity of Duars (or Dooars), took more than eighteen years (from 1991 to 1994 for the First Phase and again from 1994 to 2009 for the Second Phase) to complete the collection, processing and analysis of the data. Each and every phase again required a final visit in the subsequent year, on the completion of the data processing of the phase (e. g.1994 and 2010 for each of the First and Second phases respectively), before deciding on its presentations in seminars and in the form of any publication (‘Fodder grasses of Indian Sanctuaries. I: Identification of grasses, consumed by herbivores, in the Mahananda and other Wild Life Sanctuaries of North Bengal’, The Indian Forester, Vol.120, No.10, 1994, and ‘Biodiversity and Wild Fodders of Gorumara N. P. – Duars’, Journal of Environment and Ecology, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012, USA, ISSN 2157-6092; doi:10.5296/jee.v3i1.1940 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5296/jee.v3i1.1940).
A few tit bits – A prolonged observation is always necessary, in any type of research work on biodiversity, to ascertain the reliability of the collected data and information. Identification of a plant species requires the specimen be in flowering and/or fruiting (fructification in case of a non – vascular plant species) condition(s) which significantly varies seasonally and geographically and a researcher has to complete at least 2 – 3 uninterrupted annual cycles to have any idea about the nature of the flora of an area. To study the behavioral aspects and food habit of wild animal species, direct viewing is very important and it is not like visiting a zoo or an open safari park. Even when the direct sighting has not been made or is not possible, varieties of marks and signs like foot prints or pug marks, claw marks on tree trunks, hoof marks, grazing marks, faecal matters, bird droppings, etc. can tell us about the very presence and concentration of any particular animal species in a specific forest area. Counting on insect species trapped in the spiders’ webs can provide additional and useful information about the insect fauna of an area. Together, all these aspects comprise the data base for measuring the biodiversity of a wild life reserve. Moreover, repeated observations from close, various marks and signs and examination of samples and specimens in the laboratory form the part of the clues necessary to detect innumerable varieties of interaction amongst species which determines the sustainability of a biodiversity. Any interference and interruption into these interactions shall question the very sustainability of the biodiversity and that is what has happened everywhere and has caused another mass extinction during this recent age of the Holocene Epoch. Come forward – Let us stand together to guard the peace and tranquility of the wilderness. Together we shall be able to stop ‘species shrinkage’ and any further ‘species extinction’ from our beautiful blue planet.
Let us start afresh – Beginners or tourists always have fascinations for larger carnivores, pachyderms or other larger herbivores, larger reptiles and most often colourful birds and expect to sight these wild animals at every instance they roam around a wild life reserve. Seldom have they tried and rarely they enjoy and appreciate of viewing wild insects, rodents, smaller reptiles and some birds of prey. On the contrary, one who knows and is experienced would accept the notion that the frequency of each and every species of the fauna and flora can tell us about the nature, quality, geographical location and other characteristics of a forest or a wild life reserve. Are you a beginner? I am always and shall ever be. Every morning I find the movements of all the known birds, butterflies and bees, and the creepy – crawlers look different. Young fruits and flower buds grow in size every day and look different. Little do I know and always learning. It is ever amazing to know that how many things the scientists are discovering and inventing every day. Well then let us start with bird watching or wild life photography. For the first one we need to be equipped with a pocket guide or a ready reckoner on Indian birds; and for the second one we need to have a camera with some accessories and choose a subject which may be a butterfly or any other insect, or a frog, or a snake and other reptiles, smaller or larger herbivores or carnivores or we can concentrate on anything moving. We need something extra to see and understand movements in apparently motionless plants. A number of e – packages are now available, and more are coming up, as ‘application’ (apps for computer or mobile phone with android) for identification of butterflies, frogs, snakes etc. As most of our moving subjects are elusive and birds and other flying objects are very much volatile, most often we get frustrated readily at the start for not having desirable snap shots. With the experiences gathered, we shall learn that patience is the most important and vital tool of all in wild life watch and photography. Do you want to know my secret? I get very impatient when have to wait to visit a wild life sanctuary. I always want to visit them as frequently as possible while with all my patience in store to watch and photograph wild life.
We are already in – Further research work in this regard has been undertaken (no financial assistance has been acquired), to study the flora, wild life and biodiversity of various N. Ps. and W. L. Ss. in India, as I have now ample time after retiring from the post of Associate Professor (on 31st January, 2013) and already have visited the Corbett National Park (CNP or Corbett Tiger Reserve/CTR) and its adjoining areas in Uttarakhand, India, during November, 2013, to make a preliminary survey of the area and to take a primary stock on the flora and wild life of the region. The initial trip to CNP was absolutely encouraging because of the richness of its flora and wild life. A commendable quantity of data on the flora and fauna of a number of N. Ps. and W. L. Ss. of different Phytogeographical regions of India have already been gathered over the last thirty years. Each one of them needs to be addressed carefully and requires further visit to these places.
Unity in diversity – our strength and inspiration – Apart from being simply different from each other geographically, every state in India differs from the other culturally, economically, agriculturally and linguistically in one part and on the other part they differ environmentally, climatically and phytogenically or phytogeographically. Therefore the state floras in India radically differ from each other qualitatively or phytogenically and quantitatively. Floral differences in various geo – climatic regions directly add to the differences in food habit of wild animals and therefore, form the basis of Species Richness of an area which in turn amount to the variations in Biodiversity Indices of these wild life abodes. In spite of having an enormous population, political turbulences, pollution, extreme poverty, illiteracy, and all the other differences, India takes the pride for being considered the greatest ever democratic set up in the world and for still being globally considered the most fascinating ‘mega – diversity’.
The carbon foot print – Carbon foot print leads us all the way to the facts and factors responsible for all those dwindled forests and destroyed and polluted natural habitats. Let us now look a little beyond. Explosion in human population, culminating into huge, indiscriminate and unplanned urbanizations, enormous increase in agricultural land areas, timber wood collection (fire wood collection by forest bound populace and plant part usage by paper mills have comparatively lesser impact on forest and habitat destruction) and setting up of manufacturing industries, including power – plants, are prime factors responsible for the shrinkage of forests and destruction of natural habitats. While fossil fuel combustion through automobiles and factories is the main source of air pollution and ozone – hole formation, the industrial and urban wastes are the predominant water pollutants.
Age of Humans – Increase in human population, with an intrinsic and exponential growth rate, has pushed our ‘blue planet’ into the threshold of its carrying capacity, asking the very question of our own survival. Altogether, we have curved an artificial sphere of our own, the Anthroposphere, that has adversely affected all the other natural global spheres – our natural environment and habitats. And from another point of view, this age of our modern human civilization, ‘the Anthropocene Age’ – the latest phase of the Holocene Epoch in the geological time scale, has caused the holocaust of another mass extinction of species that has quantitatively superseded all the previous mass extinction events in the biological history of this planet. Within the past one and a half century, the gun powder and explosives in nexus with urbanization and deforestation have surpassed all other catastrophic events of Natural History to wipe out from the face of our planet earth, hundreds of thousands species that our Mother Nature designed and shaped over millions of years to ensure the origin of human beings.
The Apocalypse – an end of the Violent and Polluting Age of Modern Man and Salvation of the Righteous – with its literal meaning or with our religious belief – has to be the revelation of our time.
Habitat Destruction – where do we stand? – Uninterrupted urbanizations have separated the existing wilderness miles apart and now all the important wild life reserves are completely surrounded by human habitats. Therefore, it is well understood that without the involvement of rural agrarian communities and forest bound populace the programmes of afforestation, in situ conservation and restoration of our natural environment and habitats can never be implemented. A self-sustainable rural economy is the demand of the day to preserve the sustainability of our mega – diversity. With the far sighted planning, a number of measures have been undertaken by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, with enactment of necessary acts, laws and rules [The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; The Forest (Conservation) Act/Rules, 1980/2003; The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.] to conserve our natural resources and biodiversities, involving the rural and forest bound populations. However, in spite of the omnipresence of all these rules, laws and acts, in spite of all those meetings, seminars, symposia, processions, observations of forest – day, plantation – day, earth – day etc. etc., and so on to propagate awareness amongst our people about the necessity and benefits of conservation of wild life and nature, all our good efforts remain prefatorily ceremonious and without any result or consequence in the absence of en masse participation of our people whose abstinences are due to lack of education and due to extreme poverty.
Is there any remedy? Is any hope left? Perhaps the answer is affirmative. Perhaps, someday, we shall see light at the end of the dark tunnel. May be, very soon, we shall revert to regain whatever we have lost. And, before that, let me narrate sequentially my dreams and my expectations over the facts and facets as I have seen and understood. I don’t expect anyone to share and support my views when my understandings are proved to be wrong and when my expectations are found to be impractical and inapplicable. Rather I would happier ever than before when my misunderstandings are corrected and when better ways than my expectations are suggested.
Situations (as I have understood) and Expectations (all the ‘should be’ words used are for convenient writing intending to mean ‘might have been’; it would be the best thing to relish when an expected notion is already existing or comes to exist) –
1) Situations – Forest, wild life and biodiversity management systems in India apparently have a well-organized set up since the independence of India. Starting with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) of Union Government of India and of all the other State Governments, with the Cabinet Ministers and the Ministers of State (MoS) at the helm of all related affairs, the integrated constituents of the systems are Central and State level Secretaries, Joint Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries (an IAS cadre; sometimes at the State level, a promoted personnel from the State Administrative Services), and then downwards at the State levels, the PCCF (Principal Chief Conservator of Forests), CCF (Chief Conservator of Forests), Directors (Department of Social Forestry or Utilization of Forest Produces), Chief &/or lower ranked Wild Life Wardens, DFO (Divisional Forest Officer; an IFS cadre), ADFO (IFS or from State Forest Services/SFS), AFO (Assistant Forest Officer), RO (Range Officer), BO (Beat Officer), Forest Guards, Beaters and a number of Management Boards, Planning Boards and Advisory Boards of various forms and statures comprising Ministers, Officers and Dignitaries from other disciplines of our social life.
Expectations – In this specific management system the appointments of personnel from Secretaries to ADFO should be made from IFS or SFS cadres, instead of IAS cadres, as per rank and status, and from AFO to BO should be filled up from SFS cadres, following the conventional selection procedures. There should have been enough scope for promotion to higher positions through proper procedures, for each post. The whole platoons of forest guards and beaters should be a well-balanced amalgamation of personnel selected from armed security forces and persons from forest bound rural populace. Before final posting they should be equipped with walkie-talkie, satellite-phone set, radio-antenna, sophisticated modern weaponries and proper training to use these gadgets, along with required training in GPS tracking devices, Forestry and Wild Life. It is always expected that the Ministers – in – Charge have a keen knowledge on the essence of International Treaties, our National Laws, Acts and Rules in relation to Climate, Natural Habitats and Resources, and have sincerest interest in Biodiversity and Wild Life.
2) Situa…..Nevertheless, I don’t really understand when a mere hobbyist, with a hobby on wild life photography or bird watching and otherwise a renowned person, having almost no idea about the compactly integrated and interactive components of a biodiversity, is included in these boards or committees (vide Situation 1) as an expert. And more incredible fact is that sometimes even ‘official hunters’ (those who are officially remunerated and given license to kill a rogue or a so called man eater) who are merely having skills of tracking, stalking and ultimately shooting the poor wild animals (which are officially called ‘games’ by almost everyone) through the barrels of a high power telescopic rifle, is considered an expert in wild life and is included into these systems. A high powered official inquiry into this regard would reveal many more facts, which myself alone can’t prove at this juncture and so don’t have anything to write.
Expecta….. The formation of Forest, Environment and Wild Life related Management, Planning and Advisory boards, as per the provisions in the concerned Acts/Laws, apart from statutory inclusion of Ministers and Officials, should only include conversant personalities like scientists, teachers, scholars, reporters and photographers working in these fields as evident by publications. We need ‘a Law/an Act to put ‘a blanket ban’ on terming wild life ‘a game’ (officially or literally). Repeated use of this term is a shame to a civilized society which claims its concern about environment, wild life, forests, Natural resources and so on and so forth, and yet propagates this term relentlessly to denote all sorts of avian, reptilian and mammalian wild species.
A letter to a civilized Y – haplo – group relative from the undersigned……
My Dear Civilized Human,
It is long time since you left our Mother Nature’s wild abode. We have lost many of our brothers and sisters, from all wild species that our Mother gave birth and nurtured, during every invasion by your civilized denizens since the onset of the last millennium. Your civilized brethren arrived, in the disguise of modern civilization, riding your development – carriages, heavily armoured with Gun – powdered hatreds. We mistook them our haplo – brothers, approached too close and charred ourselves to permanent extinction under the hatred they radiated. They did not even spare our homes, the natural habitats. Those who survived the onslaught are now suffering from varieties of syndromes namely ‘species shrinkage’, ‘genetic incompatibility’, ‘genetic bottleneck’ etc. etc. resulting from the epidemics of ‘atmospheric GHG increase’, ‘el-Niño’, ‘global warming’ and ‘pollution’ that they left behind from all those invasions and which you have spilled over from your act of modern civilization. It seemed that your so called modern civilization is still drowsing in the hangover of more than ten thousand years old pre – Neolithic hunting overdrink.
By the by, Mother wants to see you as soon as possible. May be she is breathing her last as she is suffering from a peculiar ‘ozone-hole’ syndrome that we have never seen before, and as such, we don’t have any remedy for this.
Anyway, hope you are doing well. Oh! I forgot to tell you. For the last few decades, our Mother in her meek voice, urging me to ask you to come back at your earliest. We don’t know why, she is afraid that you all are going to be perished in the fall out of this ‘modern human civilization’. I don’t think you need be alarmed and worried at all. Probably she is in delirium from her prolonged illness.
Yet, many more remain to be told.
One Y haplo-brother from Adam & Sons Company.
3) Situa….. This huge set up is proved futile under the enormous pressure of increasing population and urbanization. With our age-old and almost obsolete agricultural practices, we are always in need of more agricultural land to feed this growing population and as a result we are losing several hectares of forest land every year. Huge quantity of urban-solid-wastes and large amount of industrial-toxic-wastes are chocking a sizeable chunk of our invaluable Ramsar Sites every year. In spite of India are being considered one most important signatory to the treaty of the Ramsar Convention, many of our important Ramsar Sites, which are considered to be the hearts, lungs and kidneys of densely populated urban areas and mega-cities, are encroached upon by certain filthy freaks of our society – the land-sharks and the greedy promoters (The Statesman & Times of India, 01- 07. 01.2014). Destruction of natural habitats and species-shrinkage are the most revealing phenomena of our time. Every year we are pushing a good number of species into extinction and are enlisting many as ‘endangered’.
Expecta….. Industries producing toxic wastes should be grouped together in areas, taking a cue from the ‘land bank data’, provided with an efficient centrally controlled ‘effluent treatment’ system. Encroachment on Ramsar Sites and illegal filling up of water bodies can be prevented by involving students from all levels of academic institutions and by gaining active support from political leaders coming out of their political creed. Urban waste disposal grounds can easily be converted into beautiful forest-gardens with water pockets by any Metropolitan Development Authority themselves. These gardens will provide shelters to a number of dwindling wild species still living around urban areas. In an innumerable number of ways more than ninety percent of all these urban and rural wastes can be converted into organic manures or fertilizers. It is best practiced in every agriculturally advanced country and is best way to help restore our natural resources. The use of Genetically Monitored crops (or GM crops) in our mode of agronomy is not an answer. Automatically the resistant and mutant varieties of pests and pathogens will come up. Finally, sooner or later, the ‘gene spillage’ is sure to jeopardize the existence of our ‘time tested and best suited’ native and hybrid cultivars. Simply we have to explore what Mother Nature has gifted us. There are trillions of microorganisms which symbiotically can benefit every individual plant, and so our cultivars, by providing all sorts of nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous macro – and micro – nutrients to the plants and by protecting the host from pests and pathogens, in lieu of just a very little nutrients from the host plant. We have to use the already known technology of converting all our urban and rural wastes, and weeds, into invaluable organic fertilizers to help built a sustainable agricultural practice.
4) Situa….. There are many more startling facts appearing in News Dailies which most often either escape our notice or are forgotten easily. Facing extreme poverty, a sizeable number of ill-fated, illiterate and ill-educated rural people become an easy target of notorious underworlds to become converted into skilled and well-trained poachers. These poor terminal poachers fall an easy prey to an alluring return risking their own lives. A poacher can earn several thousand rupees at one go. Moreover, when a poacher is killed accidentally in animal attack or in an encounter with security personnel, the kin next to the slain poacher is readily paid in millions by the ‘higher-ups’ in the hierarchy in these obnoxious, well-knit networks of poachers and smugglers (The Statesman, Tuesday, 07.01.2014). Now the obvious question is – how can it ever happen in the very presence of our official ‘intelligence and surveillance’ bureaus? If it is occurring without any nexus with our own ‘administrative and socio-political higher ups’, then our intelligence agencies may have to learn from these ‘antisocial networks’. And then again we should pray to his almighty lordship for turning all these poachers, smugglers, antisocial…into good Samaritans.
Expecta….. More and more forest bound people are to be harnessed into the Forest Protection Groups (FPG) which is considered an extended part of the security system guarding our wild life territories. The FPGs should be made well-trained, well-equipped and salaried (a different pay-scale can be considered) staff. Whenever any forest-staff (irrespective of division and rank) is killed by animal attack, by an encounter with poachers or by any natural disaster, the family next to the slain staff should readily and substantially be compensated before the necessary enquiry is completed. Children of forest-staff should be admitted to boarding schools or institutions with hostel facilities on a priority basis and at free of cost as in most cases the schools or higher education institutions are inaccessible from where these forest bound people are bound to live and as in majority cases they cannot afford the cost of education of their wards because of their very low income situation.
5) Situa….. India is surrounded by and well-connected to a number of Sovereign Countries where medicines are prepared using varieties of animal parts (tiger bones, rhino horns, pangolin scales, navels or nombrils of musk deer etc. etc.) which are believed to possess ‘aphrodisiac’ and ‘longevity increasing’ properties that has no scientific basis at all. In India and abroad still it is a common practice of certain ‘filthy rich people’ to keep possessions of ‘stuffed body’ (whole body, head & neck, horns, leg & paw, feathers & quills etc. etc.), ‘tanned and processed skin’ (of all varieties of mammals and reptiles in particular) and ‘ivory’ of wild animals (the term ivory does not necessarily mean only the elephant source) and wide varieties of show-pieces made from the body parts of wild animals which are considered by them as their enviable prized possessions. This is an advertent vulgar show of wealth and power by these rich and prejudiced hypochondriacs. The currency transactions in these poaching – smuggling trades can surpass many of our export – import business.
Expecta….. Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), working in tandem with the Ministry of External Affairs (MoEA), should be exploring all possible avenues to mount pressure on these errant countries for rigorous implementation of CITES (see below). Moreover, these errant countries should be debarred from entering into any FDI in our country. We should be more vigilant along the borders involving honest and sincere civilians and using modern surveillance systems.
6) Situa…..Measures taken – International – A variety of measures have been taken at International levels by framing out a number of Protocols and Treaties, coming out through the frameworks of various international conventions, conferences and summits, to protect our climate by reducing the accumulation of GHG (Green House Gas) in the atmosphere and to save our natural habitats and biodiversity from further encroachment and destruction. India is one most significant signatory to these protocols and treaties with her little more than 1.15 billion children to save and feed. The Protocols of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), since it was negotiated in 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro (popularly known by its title, the Earth Summit), through the resolutions of Conferences of Parties (COP), Conferences of Member Parties (CMP) and of United Nations Climate Change Conferences (UNCCC) during their summits, from time to time, have formed the basic framework for the reduction of the GHG which is responsible for climate change and global warming. The framework, which binds signatories’ governments upon ratification, have emphasized on minimization of fossil fuel combustion and carbon foot print watch, prevention of deforestation and complete eradication of poverty. Other significant international Framework Conventions and Summits, to most of which India are signatory, are United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD, 1992) and Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Ramsar Convention (Wetlands); Bonn Convention on Migratory Species; World Heritage Convention (indirectly by protecting biodiversity habitats); Global Summit on Climate Change (Durban Summit, 2011- extending Kyoto Protocol till 2017, Kyoto 11th December, vide COP 7, 2001& Cancun Summit, COP 16, CMP 5, 2010. Alongside, there are some Regional Conventions such as the Apia Convention and Bilateral agreements such as the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement which highlight our global awareness to help protect our natural climate and biodiversity.
Surprisingly it is those developed and industrialized countries (Annex and Non-Annex), who are responsible for this present environmental disasters, and who themselves have now a very poor record on biodiversity and habitat conservations, are found to be more vocal and mounting pressure on poor underdeveloped countries to follow these protocols and treaties, while most of these underdeveloped countries are still having an effective biodiversity maintenance track records.
Expecta….. Being the most important signatory to the treaties and protocols, India should be more aggressive to bring these errant countries to books during every global summit and convention, and should lay preconditions for following the carbon emission norms and other protocols before signing any bilateral treaty with them.
7) Situa…..India – India, being a non-annex member and signatory party to UNFCCC, COP & CMP, is bound to all these international protocols and frameworks. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, The Forest (Conservation) Act/Rules, 1980/2003 and The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 formed the basis of biodiversity and habitat conservation in India. In tandem with the Protocols of UNFCCC a number of measures have been undertaken recently by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India and yet, they are found to be quite inadequate in terms of the proportion of our population and the ratio of man and remaining natural habitats. Now in a number of NPs and WLSs a few people from the populations living in and around these areas have been involved to form the Forest Protection Groups (FPG) or to serve as the Forest Guides and drivers of various Safari vehicles, with remunerations on a daily wages basis, to help protect forests and to help in Eco-Tourisms.
Expecta….. May be, in near future, stepping out of all of our political and religious creed we would have to be univocally vying for ‘one parent one child’ law to help protect what we have till date, with our limited resources. We should hold ourselves responsible for turning our beautiful ‘blue planet’ into a mess and putting a 4000 million years’ history of biological evolution into shambles. Now it is our duty to make our environment healthy, clean and habitable again for our future generations to come.
8) Situa…..Practically, from any point of view, achievements are negligible as compared to the huge propaganda being publicized with such regularity. Due to lack of proper training, modern gadgets and instrumentation these FPGs are rendered helpless. On the contrary, being heavily tipped, the poor people of these FPGs are turned out to be the helping hands of monstrous timber mafia for illegal felling of trees particularly in less known WLSs and RFs. On the other hand, the much hyped eco-tourism, instead of really creating any public awareness, has turned out to be the ‘gaming-zones’ and ‘fashionable-past time destinations’ in the hands of ‘very rich’. These filthy rich do even dare to defy all laws to turn these ‘pleasure trips’ into their ‘hunting trips’ by trying to bribe anyone who come across (a number of such cases are still pending under the jurisdiction of various courts). Forest Rest Houses (FRH), food and accessibilities are very costly and in majority remain beyond the reaches of real nature loving common people from middle or low income groups that comprise ninety percent of our population. There is no provision to make them available or accessible, on a priority basis and with lowered rate, to the scientists, teachers, scholars, and students, and photographer – reporters working on wild life, or flora, or fauna, or biodiversity.
Expecta….. Forestry, Wild Life, Eco-Tourism, Agriculture and Rural Employment should now be harnessed into a single thread with our vision. A similar Project Plan is in its Preparatory Stage at somewhere (the exact location to be disclosed in due time) in West Bengal, to see our dreams come true. The scientists, teachers, scholars and reporters should be allowed on a ‘top priority’ basis to enter the forests and NPs throughout the year and should be provided with a provision to stay there at a lower possible rate to add more eyes to the wild life security system and to keep the most unwanted and unauthorized persons (persona non grata) at bay. Round the year entry of these scientists and reporters into any forest area, removing all the stipulations would surely minimize poaching to an extent. Poaching becomes rampant as the poachers tend to use this period most in the absence of possible eye witnesses and because manning of these vast and wide areas of wild life reserves is never possible with the present poor staff pattern of various forest departments.
Can we still dare to dream and expect a change in situation at this juncture? Dreaming we should be. Dreaming is the foundry of all inventions – workshop of all the masterpieces – mother of all turning points in the history of human civilization. Expectation is synonymous with optimism to hope for good things to come – it is the strength and vigour of an honest man working hard with sincerity to keep this planet habitable for generations to come.