About animals and their relationships with humans!

Read the following lines which everyone already studied at schooltime:
“Cow gives us milk.” “Sheep gives us wool.” “Goat gives us meat”

Now answer these questions:

Does cow really gives us milk or we take it?
Does sheep really gives us wool or we take it?
Does goat gives us meat or we take it?

The logic is simple. Man is selfish. Throughout the history of evolution, man has achieved dominance over the earth proving “survival of the fittest” because man has learned how to utilize nature for its own self needs. Its good that we learned to utilize nature and every organism do that to survive, infact the basis of survival is to utise nature and its resources. But the problem arised when the “utilization” turned into “exploitation”. From the period humans came into existence their utter selfishness has
alredy made millions of organisms extinct and the tradition still continues. But there’s one difference between them and the modern human beings. The ancient humans realized it and then there arised another tradition. Its tradition because it still continues but not as they were followed earlier but as rituals. The tradition was actually conservation of environment and its parts. The intelligent people started relating air, water, soil, plants, animals and nearly all things to divine and some as god himself. This could be clearly seen in almost all religion. Here I give the example of Hinduism. In Hinduism every god or goddess is associated with an animal or “vaahan” and every idol is incomplete with the respective vaahan and they are always worshipped alongwith the god’s idol. Eg. Lord Ganesha himself having a head of elephant has a rat as his vaahan, Saraswati with a duck, etc. Not only this every god were also known with names of their animal associated like “Sherawali” for goddess Durga. Not only gods, some rituals were also started to protect the animals from humans, one of the famous and most common which still exist through thousands of years is “cat ritual”. According to Hindu rituals killing a cat is most worst sin one can do. And if someone kills it mistakenly then he had to make a golden cat of same weight to make himself free of that sin. This ritual must be an initiative started much earlier and can be traced to protection of big cats like tiger which is now headache for environmentalist. These type of rituals were once many but in skin of selfishness largely ignored and kept on replacing with other rituals which are more benefitial….. another great example of evolution….this time of rituals! But though they seems to be beneficial at some point of time but now man has enough logic why to protect them. In past few decades man has realized the importance of animals, following the simple saying, “youi don’t know the importance of teeth unless you lose it”. And when animals started to vanish, humans eyes opened but still due to our self need we are ignoring it till now and we will until its too late.
Now when we talk about animals generally we talk about big mammals or reptiles are considered. But when we say animals all metazoans including marine sponges, corals, fishes, birds, zooplankton, amphibians and most important insects, worms, helminthes are also to be considered. Each individuals of all the species that exist on earth has got some importance. Every organism is created by nature with some particular function they have to perform. Every animal is related to another, no single species can live without the other and so the humans. The balance of nature is so delicate a mild disturbance can destroy whole of it. Let take some examples.
Everyone knows butterfly is a beautiful insect and its found on flowers on which it sucks nectar. But above it, it also plays an important role in regulating an ecosystem. They help in pollination and many plants depend on them for fruiting. If there’s no butterfly…. No pollination… then no fruits…then….from where would weand other animals get fruits. The whole agriculture industry would be crippled in absence of such insects, as a result crop production will reduce. But unknowingly, we are killing our so helpful friends with pesticides, pollution and illegally catching them for ornamental values…yet a proof of human self attitude. Now, about 20,000 butterfly species are on endangered.

Another example can be of bats, which are always considered as devil’s sign due to their scary look and some myths attached that they sucks human bloods etc. The fact is that only 1 species of bat are blood sucking and rest of all feed on fruits etc and helps in pollination. Another service they provide is protection from mosquitoes. Bats can detect mosquitoes from many meters far through their frequency modulation sensors and feed on them very fast. So, are they harmful to us??

Fishes like Gambusia and some zooplankton like cyclopoid copepod are natural predator of mosquito larva. Now a days as wetlands are filled for developmental reasons, the mosquito control has become a major issue with rising cases of dengue, chikungunea etc. and the chemicals available in market are already ineffective on them as mosquitoes are fast resisting insects. So who is at receiving end? Humans! Who created the problem? Humans! This can be a classic example of human’s own selfishness affecting himself.

There are many examples, animals have always been a friend of humans but in turn of it they didn’t got the same from us. Isn’t it shameful for us? If you starts to think then every animal is playing some role in preserving the environment and directly or indirectly helping humans also. Even a lizard and spiders in our home protect us from many insects, but still we don’t like them!

rescuing a wild neelgai caught up in construction debris.
 Over fishing has resulted in extinction of many fishes and pushed many on endangered list.
In India, vultures are now seldom seen due to use of Diclofenac, a medicine used for cattles which are fatal to vultures once consumed their carcass.
Gangetic dolphins, Rhinoceros, Leopards, Gharials are facing a great threat from humans and their activities.
Asiatic lions which once used to roam from Iran to Burma are now constricted to a small area in Gujrat, there also facing threats from humans.
Many Himalayan species had disappeared mysteriously, which one reason can be fragmentation of “North-East Corridor” which once provided a fully fledged balance ecosystem.
Hyenas once abundant in dlhi ridges are now yesterday’s story.

In Himachal Pradesh people had stopped growing crops in recent years saying that they are at a great loss due to wild animals consuming their crops of which wild pigs and monkeys are the most common. When some ecologists observe the situation closely they found, hunting of leopards have increased in the area, and the number of leopards are very few as compared to last ew years. The case was clear. Actually leopards are natural predators of monkeys, pigs etc. When their number was good they kept regular check on the population of monkeys and pigs. Now when their population decreased the prey population increased and as a result monkeys and pigs faced shortage of food in the forest and starts migrating outsides. So, this can be another great example why we should conserve wildlife.

Anotehr example can be given of Mauritius, where a species of tree once abundant there stopped reproducing. Even their seeds were not germinating. Scientists couldn’t give valid reason for that. When they started studying the case they got to know that the situation appeared just after extinction of Dodo, a bird which used to exist before and was indigenous to that area. Then they found seeds of that tree from the gut of a fossil Dodo. It was concluded that the seeds would hatch only if it passes through the bird’s gut. Now they are helpless finding ways to germinate it, don’t know whether they had succeed or not! Another example how a particular organism regulates ecosystem.

Its really sad that humans had turned so selfish. For our own need, we are depriving them of their rights to enjoy nature and resources available on earth, infact snatching would be the right word. They are also living neing like us and they also have equal right on all natural things as we do. Just think what would you do if a fellow human being treat you like that? You will go to court and seek a strict punishment for him. Now if the animals could speak our language and drag ourselves to court, then which punishment would be most suitable?
If the current situation continues and we didn’t take any step to protect them not only we will lose our beautiful biodiversity but also the service they provide us, and atlast we will be also destroyed because nature has everything in balance, even a slight disturbance can have serious impact on whole earth and humans will be the most affected.

This article was originally posted at Vimarsh, an e-forum of Centre for Science Education and Communication, University of Delhi. Click here to see this there.

This artcile was again reprinted in 'Probe' magazine published by Department of Zoology, Acharya Narendra Dev College, University of Delhi in 2009.

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