From the mighty elephant to the humble worker bee, the huge variety of life on Earth contributes to our lives and well-being in more ways than we think. From offering a wealth of natural medicines to safeguarding us from climate shocks and improving soil health, we need wildlife for our survival, well-being and prosperity.
However, the way we live and work – from the food we eat to how we build our infrastructure – is causing a steep decline in their numbers. In the past 40 years alone, we’ve seen, on average, a decline of 60 per cent in populations of species.
Protecting wildlife could significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of destructive forest wildfires. Plant-eating wild animals reduce the amount of grass that can fuel fires through grazing. Wildlife such as elephants, also helps forests store carbon more efficiently by dispersing seeds of large trees with higher carbon storage potential helping in climate change mitigation. Studies show that the loss of such trees results in as much as a 10 per cent drop in the carbon storage potential of tropical forests
Nature’s medicine cabinet- Chemical compounds derived from nature continue to provide valuable knowledge to researchers and medical practitioners with crucial implications for medical sciences. Amphibians are especially important for modern medicine with compounds extracted from frogs alone used for treating depression, seizures, strokes and memory loss.
Wildlife serves as a critical Nutrient-rich food source, rich in proteins and minerals for billions of people around the world. Through community conservation in Namibia, there has been an increase in food security and reduced malnutrition through livelihood diversification and the provision of game meat which contains higher proportions of unsaturated fatty acids. Consuming wild meat also helps cut down on food miles and the carbon footprint of food production making it a win-win for us and the planet.
Wildlife offers numerous cultural and therapeutic benefits. Research has shown that people are most drawn to landscapes that are tranquil, aesthetically appealing, containing wildlife and have a historic significance. These self-enhancing values may include watching wildlife films or photographing wildlife. Not surprisingly, international travel to wildlife destinations has tripled over the past 20 years, with visits to protected areas rising in most developing countries.
Wild animals play a key role in enhancing the health and fertility of soil by improving its nutrients. Their dung and urine help replenish the nutrient content of the soil by providing it with enriching minerals
There is more to what wildlife can offer you and the planet than what is mentioned here but we hope that this is a good starter to spare a thought for the plight of many threatened species around the world and activate you to conserve our natural environment.
Adapted from WWF International.