Friday, 19 June 2015

When neither wildlife nor humans respect borders

Nature Without Borders is a collection of essays that chronicles conservation efforts in farmlands, pastures, rivers, and seas. People grow crops, harvest fish, and graze livestock in areas where many species of wildlife also live and hunt.

Monday 15 June 2015 11.20 BSTLast modified on Monday 15 June 201511.51 BST

A collection of essays, Nature Without Borders, edited by environmental historian Mahesh Rangarajan and ecologists M.D. Madhusudan and Ghazala Shahabuddin, refreshingly explores opportunities for conservation in farmlands and community pasture lands.

Most research and conservation of wild species takes place in protected forests in India. These little oases of wildlife were marked out to prevent farmers from clearing more forest land. Agriculture was thought to be the biggest threat to wildlife since the 1970s. Within these reserves, the goal of conservation was to erase all human activity so the forests could revert to prehistoric Edens.

Managers and conservationists often looked to parks to solve any wildlife problem, like the conservation of an endangered species, preventing wild carnivores from preying on livestock, and stopping herbivores from wandering into neighbouring croplands.

In the introduction, the editors acknowledge that parks are necessary for conservation, but conservation is a universal goal and cannot be confined to parks. Even where people don’t have homesteads inside these Edens, residents living around parks’ edges graze livestock in the forest, and collect fruits, bamboo, and other produce. Elephants, tigers, and other wild species routinely venture out into farmlands in search of easy food. Neither animals nor humans respect borders. Besides, toxins reach within through air or water, and the pervasive effects of climate change leave no part of the world unscathed.

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