In India, where more than 50% of the population is below the age of 25, there is an urgent need to inculcate a strong sense of the importance of conservation

If children are nurtured to be compassionate towards nature, guided step-by-step to understand nature and conservation till they become informed adults, there will be a day when they will become professionals in their own chosen careers but still remain committed environmentalists in their daily lives.

In India, where more than 50% of the population is below the age of 25, there is an urgent need to inculcate a strong sense of the importance of conservation. Only this will ensure better decision makers in the future, who will understand the critical importance of protecting India’s forests and wildlife.

So where do we begin? There are various ways through which you can sensitise people around you, especially children, about the wonderful natural world.

The best starting point is to strongly establish the fact that earth is an incredibly special planet. This could be done in the following way through engaging conversations.

Introducing them to the Universe: There are around 200 billion galaxies in the Universe. Among them is the Milky Way. Milky Way would encompass various planetary systems that may yet to be discovered. But, this galaxy has the Solar System. Even in the Solar System, planets closer to the sun are extremely hot and inhospitable. Planets that are away from the sun beyond the earth are extremely cold and life cannot thrive there at the moment.

The Earth is the only planet where the average temperature is just right, 16 degree Celsius. How often have we thought about the diverse ecosystems and hundreds of thousands of animals, birds and various other life forms that live around us on this planet?

Our planet is home to around 7 billion people and counting. It is from the Earth we get everything that keeps us alive.

Introducing them to India: When we ask someone about the uniqueness of our country, most of us would immediately reply that it is the birthplace of some of the greatest civilisations. Agriculture, languages and spice strike our mind within a fraction of a second. But there is no other country in the world that can boast of the variety of wildlife and diversity of habitats that we have. India has snow-capped mountains, rainforests, deserts, coral reefs, and mangroves along with a diverse variety of forests all in one geographical landscape! These are all home to some spectacular biodiversity.

Ending with a reflective thought process: If we still have all this with 1.2 billion people jostling for space, can you imagine what it must have been like a thousand years ago when there were far fewer people and most of India was clothed in one kind of habitat or another? What a wildlife paradise it must have been!

Although the extent of wildlife habitat and the quantity of wildlife is greatly diminished today, we must count our blessings and work hard to save what’s left.

The author is an award-winning nature photographer and co-founder of the Youth for Conservation. In this monthly column he talks about his passion for nature, photography and conservation.