United In Life... Or Divided In Death?
October 2011: This interaction between this Himalayan marmot Marmota himalayana and the red fox Vulpes vulpes took place in the natural wonderland of Ladakh's Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary in India. As always, I found myself fixated when the new image reached my desk and began figuring out just how far the fox actually was, how fast the marmot would be able to dive into its burrow, and why the fox seemed so disinterested in the cheeky breakfast that seemed to be mocking him (her?)
One of the rewards of editing Sanctuary for over three decades is the arrival of such exquisite insights into nature, sent by some of the finest photographers and writers. I am acutely aware, of course, that the images represent commonplace happenings in the life of the planet and its wards, as day turns to night and the seasons keep cycling along. In fact our mission has everything to do with the desire to ensure that the 'mundane', natural cycle of life keeps chugging along so that tigers can hunt deer, monkeys can disperse seeds and bats and bees can pollinate our world.
Of course, if you listen to some biologists they might tell you, dismissively, that the red fox happens to be among the widest-spread, least-threatened of all carnivores. They add that the marmot is little more than an overgrown squirrel that breeds prolifically and is far from endangered. The comprehension of the threat of climate change and how fast it can turn the survival tables is not yet a blip on their radars.
Those who live in or visit Pakistan's Deosai National Park in the Gilgit-Baltistan are aware that snow leopards, brown bear, grey wolves and Himalayan ibex share this austere habitat with the fox and marmot and, what is more, all these creatures move freely between both nations ignoring the artificial boundaries that are the cause of so much human bloodshed.
Like biologists, most Indian and Pakistani politicians and policy makers readily point to their rising Homo sapiens populations to suggest that ecological fears expressed for 'tomorrow' are unfounded. Yet, as I write, The Nation says that after last year's flood losses in Pakistan (Rs. 855 billion), this year's Sindh floods, which have damaged crops, stored grain, livestock, seeds, factories and infrastructure may cause that nation's ailing economy to turn even more sick. Meanwhile, The Times of India informs us that in Orissa, a state that has declared war on its natural habitats, floods have ravaged the life of over two million people living in 2,000 villages spread over eight districts. cbd vape canada
Melting glaciers, rising seas, falling water tables, withered lakes and rivers… have left two choices ahead for India and Pakistan. Either we unite, put our differences away, and assist each other to restore ecological harmony to our fractured lands… or die divided.