Threatened Biodiversity

Healthy biodiversity, believe it or not, affects each and every one of us in some way, no matter whether we live in an urban environment of a rural one. We live in a world in which apparently insignificant creatures are becoming extinct. It is is also true to note that we have no idea when a particularly insignificant creature dies out what the ripple effect of its loss is going to be. Bees are, perhaps, an good example. Sure, if they die out we lose honey. So what’s the big deal here? Read on:

African honey-bee

African honey-bee

Bees are the world’s most prolific pollinators. Remove them from the biodiversity mix and we lose the mechanism of crop pollination. No crop pollination, no crop. No wheat – and therefore no bread or any other wheat product; no barley, no oats, no fruit, no wine, no whiskey, no cattle fodder, no meat, no milk. We could create a massive list. The human and animal populations on this planet would face starvation on a massive scale. All because of the loss of one type of insect. A growing number of countries are banning the use of crop sprays that are toxic to bees, so again, we have a race against time. Will the bans stop the extermination of bees? Le’s hope they do, and that more and more states across the globe see the light and pull the plug on toxic spraying.

The question one has to ask is how many other seemingly insignificant creatures are we losing without knowing how much other ecological systems are being undermined. And how long will it be before the systems begin to collapse. Read a book by Rachel Carson called “Silent Spring” for some insights into this dilemma. It’s an old book but is every bit as relevant today as it was when it was published.

In our school days we were taught in Physical Science that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Our environment is no different. Removing snakes results in the proliferation of rats and mice. Removing rats and mice results results in crop damage, and a proliferation of insect pests. Removing bats certainly results in an increase in pesky flying insects such as mosquitoes. What we need to strive for in our daily living is balance in nature around us. Unfortunately modern lifestyles ignore this vital element. Hadedas annoy us with their raucous calls – so shoot the hadedas; bird droppings dirty our cars – so blow them away; porcupines chew our newly planted trees – so trap them… And so it goes on.

We are, however, fortunate in that there is a growing number of folk out there who are sensitive to these environmental issues, and who are taking up the cudgels for wildlife. We can all play our part by actively working towards environmental balance, or by supporting those who are active in this field. Formal conservation can only do so much, and relies on public participation – particularly in fields that the agencies don’t or can’t cover.

It’s very easy to get despondent about the lack of environmental consideration around us – industry generally seems to ignore the issue in the ongoing quest for greater profit, cutting corners with regard to pollution and waste disposal, bulldozing pristine habitats to create more factories. Well, it’s up to us – the little people – to make a noise about that, for if an industrial giant can be turned to an environmentally sensitive operating system we would have achieved a great thing.

The truth is that all the people of this planet need to take stock of what is happening around us, around them. Nations need to pay greater attention to environmental issues. It all boils down to one essential truth. We need to conserve the environment we live in – the air, the water, the soil, the oceans – because it is all we have to keep us alive.

A clear Drakensberg river - Injesuthi

A clear Drakensberg river – Injesuthi

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