The Poetry Of Nature
June 2010: Why do so many of us believe that this Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis might survive despite the double dose of bad news that confronts us daily from grassland habitats such as Kaziranga… and Manas where Ramki took this incredible series of images? Are we delusional? Or might we be aware of something most ‘lay persons’ tend to miss?
The wild species we seek to protect are really evolutionary survivors in their prime and their numbers rise, sometimes dramatically, when humans keep their distance from forests and wild ecosystems.
Consider tigers. The most trusted field biologists in India confirm that India’s existing forests are still capable of supporting between 5,000 and 10,000 tigers. But, they add, tigers will only survive if the Prime Minister of India and our State Chief Ministers discover enough political courage, wisdom and foresight to comprehend that saving natural ecosystems is the most effective adaptation and mitigation strategy against the impact of climate change. In other words they must recognise that a biodiversity resurrection will boost national development by helping to counter climate change, while offering new, dignified livelihoods to millions of Indians.
If this realisation dawns this year, or the next, floricans, rhinos and Gangetic dolphins will survive. If it comes after India’s on-going forest-lethal development plans are implemented then, together with the tiger and the moon moth, wild India is done for.
The truth is that as of today all is not lost. Nature is a self-healing phenomenon. In fact, encouraging natural ecosystems to regenerate is not just the most effective and economical strategy available to India to fight climate change, it is also the most scientific. This is because one way or other every natural ecosystem helps sequester and store carbon, purifies water, moderates climate and enhances soil fertility, not to mention tempers the impact of floods, droughts, sea surges and cyclones.
It’s time that Obama, Cameron, Merkel, Hatoyama and Manmohan Singh took a humility pill. It’s time they arrested the all-out war on nature they are waging behind the fig leaf of human development. If they merely step aside, the poetry of nature (exemplified by the natural history of the Bengal Florican) will heal our wounded planet.
Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia Vol XXX No. 3, June 2010