Population growth and detrimental human activities have put a tremendous pressure on the functioning of natural ecosystems and the wildlife thriving there. As this stress crosses the threshold of tolerance, the balance of the ecosystem is disrupted and the wildlife declines in enhanced numbers, eventually leading to their extinction.
Killing for illegal trade of various body parts, destruction of forests, wetlands and other habitats for mining, industrialisation, various developmental infrastructure, agriculture, human settlement, etc., impacts of overgrazing by domestic animals, pollution, etc., have been causing considerable stress on wildlife.
Excessive use and exploitation of wildlife are becoming more and more accelerated in the 21st Century. The key challenge of the present juncture is to prevent the degradation of wildlife habitats and protect the wildlife by fully neutralising the human stress.
The need is to strengthen the conservation initiatives in respect of the flora and fauna of the natural ecosystems and human beings must ensure an environment of cohabitation along with all other species. Wildlife crime offences need to be dealt with strongly by exemplary punishment in fast-track courts and informers of such crimes and illegal tree-cutting should be rewarded.
Experts expressed such views while participating in a webinar on ‘Current Scenario of Wildlife Conservation’ on the occasion of the 67th Wildlife Week celebration organised under the auspices of the Orissa Environmental Society (OES) here. OES president Dr Sundara Narayana Patro presided over the programme while eminent wildlife expert and former Additional Director, Department of Animal Husbandry, Tamil Nadu, Dr NS Manoharan was chief speaker.
Dr Manoharan said wildlife is the natural heritage and biological wealth of a nation. They enrich nature and fortify the ecosystems. He deliberated on various wildlife conservation challenges such as nutritional deficiency, inbreeding, emerging infectious diseases, toxins and poisoning and zoonosis.
He emphasised on various measures like habitat improvement, corridor connectivity, landscape and population management, data collection and preparation of site-specific action plans, scientific research, stakeholders awareness and participation and above all, political and administrative commitment for achieving success in wildlife conservation.
Dr Patro emphasised on the protection of the IUCN-identified wild plant species of the State put under the endangered category of its red list. At the beginning, OES secretary Dr Jaya Krushna Panigrahi in his welcome address explained the intrinsic values the wildlife have in addition to their ecological, genetic, economic, social, recreational, cultural, educational and scientific values.
Among others, Prof Santhosh Venugopalan, Dr Sudhakar Kar, Prof Nimai Ch Mishra, Prof Siba Pr Adhikary, Dr Bisweswar Das, Er Prasant Das and Dr Sudhamayee Beura also spoke on various aspects of the theme.