On Being Kind to the Environment
The name Mauritius lies to one's mind images of verdant greenery and rocking sea waves unendingly playing hide and seek with the sandy shorelines. The scenic island was inhabited by the Portuguese settlers in the early 16th century. They were the first humans ever to inhabit the land which was home to natural greenery and a variety of birds.
This happened in the beautiful island in the Indian Ocean centuries of years ago.
Dodo, a bird resembling a giant duck weighing around 50 pounds, was one among the indigenous species of the island. The bird lived healthily in the land devoid of any human intervention by eating the fruits falling from the trees of the wilderness. Obviously it did not have the necessity to fly and lived and nested on the ground under the trees.
With the advent of the Portuguese the land became the stopover for ships engaged in spice trade. The innocent and slothful Dodo bird became the source of meat to the merchant sailors and other inhabitants. Large numbers of Dodo birds were hunted down to make the diets of the visitors stodgy and filling. Later, when the Dutch made the island their penal colony a large number of monkeys, pigs and dogs were brought to Mauritius along with the convicts. Rats that came in the ships of sailors too escaped into the woods to build their colonies digging holes by the trees. The eggs of Dodo became the favorite of the rats, monkeys and other animals that accompanied the settlers.
The Dodo population came down drastically within 100 years of the settler intervention. And the bird was announced extinct around three hundreds ago.
This is not the end of the story.
Recently, scientists were astonished to find a particular tree species depleting fast in the Mauritius island. The last of few surviving trees, locally known as Calvaria, were around three hundred years old. An interesting revelation of the scientists makes one wonder at the inter-dependence of each of God's creation for the sustenance of the world God intended for man. It was discovered that the fruit of the Calvaria was the favorite of the Dodo. The seed of the tree became vivid only on passing through the digestive tract of the bird. The fallen seeds after the last bird was hunted down never sprouted. However, the good news is, recently scientists have discovered that the Turkey bird's digestive tract is capable of activating the seeds of the Calvaria tree. Only time would tell if the seeds of the future generation of Calvaria, aptly renamed the Dodo tree, would germinate, on being treated in the digestive tract of Turkey birds.
The story of Calvaria and Dodo is a classical case to understand how God has created the world and instituted everyone, man, animals, birds, and plants as equal responsible custodians for its sustained functioning. We humans inhale what plants respire and plants inhale what we exhale. Similarly wastes generated by animals, birds and plants enrich the earth for food production. The natural chain of association existing between the 'custodians' of the environment is that divine and God-made for the perpetuation of the earth. Man alone in the natural chain of association is responsible for the extinction of the fellow custodians of the earth.
Knowingly or unknowingly we humans are recklessly exploiting the resources to satisfy our greed. Many birds and fish are facing extinction at the alarming increasing pollution, particularly of thrown out plastic wastes. The hapless creatures die on mistakenly feeding on the wastes. The earth on which we are living is not our permanent abode. One day or the other we have to leave the earth in the hands of the future generation.
Mounds of garbage on our street corners pose a great deal of health hazards to the humans and animals. Many Indians still believe that spitting through the bus and train windows and sprinkling the faces of our fellow travelers with pan juice is our birth right. Similarly, most of us would throw wastes literally everywhere on the earth. When we irresponsibly throw domestic wastes on the street we are making life difficult not only to others but to ourselves as well, not to mention the sad fact that we would be fostering the extinction of another Dodo or Calvary from the earth.
Let us think a while about the purity the earth was blessed with when God created it for us and visualize it once again as the gift we would doly offer to our future generations.