Why do we need wildlife?
Why is Wildlife important?
I once had a high school physics teacher who proclaimed loudly that the only species the earth needed were humans. Remove all the animals and we could put more humans on earth. Think about that a moment. Short sighted in the extreme. Our survival depends on not being short sighted.
It doesn’t take into account that many if not most species of plants require a specific species or family of animals to fertilize and propagate the species. Remove a species of insect and its quite possible you remove a species of plant. Perhaps it is one we need to eat, or to make an as yet undiscovered medicine. But perhaps it is not. However, it is likely to be the food plant for a caterpillar or other larva that in turn grows up to pollinate other plants that we need to survive.
That’s just on a micro level: a one on one between two species. Take the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National park. The entire eco-system readjusted to having predators working year round. Elk changed their habits back into a more wild version. They could’t just sit and chomp on young willows and cottonwoods in the riparian zone. This meant more species could live in the newly regrown areas around the streams and rivers. Another example is the hippo in Africa. A water course without hippos is by and large devoid of life. The hippo’s manure feeds a multitude of species, from fish to insects to plants and creates a healthy river ecology. Ditto the elephant on the savannah. Elephants eat trees, among things and prevent the savannah from turning into a dense thicket of small acacia trees. They are responsible for an entire ecosytem remaining intact. They fertilize the ground, provide food for a myriad of insects and smaller life, and in turn replant the very trees that they eat.
That’s just the physical. But there is the spiritual, which for humans is as important as physical. Recently, a group of Washington state teens filmed themselves lobbing smoke bombs into tinder dry forest near Multnomah falls, Oregon. I cannot even imagine the lack of spirituality required for such an act. When accosted by fellow hikers, they shrugged it of as a so what, it’s done now. I can’t speak for the young men, however, I have never met a single person who was not awestruck by seeing a pristine wilderness, an animal in the wild that they’ve only seen in zoos.
Several years back there were two couples on a safari we were on with my mom. Everyone was asked if they’d been to Africa before and why they were here this time. The two couples said everyone told them they should. They had thought about booking Thailand or Viet Nam instead. They brought Ipads instead of cameras with zoom lenses. Birds didn’t thrill them. And on that safari something changed. Our guide made sure they were paired up with our party. They chuffed and huffed as we took extra photos lilac breasted rollers, and bustards, and brightly colored weaver birds. But being in a safari van with birders means you get to see the big stuff too. A birder will spot the tip of a leopard’s tail twitching in a tree. After the first few days, they were asking me for advice on a choice of bird field guide for where they lived in the states. They were bemoaning that they hadn’t brought the recommended camera size and asking everyone what camera they were using and comparing our photos. And amazingly, although they were still trying to take pictures with the Ipads, I didn’t get a single shot obscured by a turquoise tablet. And it was their party who requested “one more picture, please,” when the driver suggested we might move on.
Wildlife fulfills something in our souls. Something many people do not know is missing.
Wildlife plays a major important role in balancing the environment. Wild life also provides a stability to different kind of natural processes of nature.