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Time running out for ecology?

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UNDER THREAT: Birds such as this grey heron, which feed on insects, are under threat with farmers extensively using pesticides.
UNDER THREAT: Birds such as this grey heron, which feed on insects, are under threat with farmers extensively using pesticides.

Staff Correspondent

Madikeri: About 60 per cent of the global eco-system has reached a point of no return, the leading cause being deforestation, Pamela Gale Malhotra, environmentalist and trustee of the Save Animal Initiative (SAI) Sanctuary Trust, said here on Tuesday.

She was addressing members of the Coorg Wildlife Society here. Illegal logging, timber mafia in league with corrupt officials and politicians was the other reason for deforestation. Because of logging, one-third of the animal species had vanished and 90 per cent of the remaining species was in danger. About 88 per cent of the bird species were in the critically endangered list in India, Ms. Malhotra said.

Similarly, one kg of shrimp catch in the sea would result in the loss of 11 kg of aquatic life got as by-catch.

Deforestation had accounted for the “greenhouse effect” and if forest cover was lost, man would lose his fight against climate change, Ms. Malhotra said in a pictorial presentation.

Use of pesticides

Use of pesticides had resulted in the killing of bird species in India. For instance, a swallow (a bird) ate about 2,000 mosquitoes a day, but if a swallow was killed by indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides, its repercussions on mankind could be enormous.

DDT pesticide was banned in the U.S. because it had accounted for deaths of large number of birds and marine life. But DDT was dumped on India. As a result, frogs, spiders, birds, butterflies, which were key players in keeping ecological balance, were killed.

Ms. Malhotra explained how nitrogen generated from the rotten fish abandoned by the black bears in the forests helped plants. Every living being was linked to one another with or without each other’s knowledge. She recounted how the most maligned and beleaguered elephants, bees, butterflies acted as pollinators and propagators of plants in nature.

Melting of glaciers worldwide had been a great cause for concern, Ms. Malhotra said and added that rise in temperature, depletion of water table, change in climate had posed a great challenge to the people, most of who lived close to water bodies in the world.

She harped on the need to harness the solar power in place of non-renewable sources of energy. Cutting timber, bio-fuel, conversion of agriculture lands into Special Economic Zones, power projects, dams, transnational agro-business and flawed government policies, were some of the reasons for the global plight. The Indus Valley Civilisation, which had flourished once, was a victim of climate change, she said.

Expressing concern at the rate in which the Himalayan glaciers were melting, Ms. Malhotra said that entire glaciers could melt down by 2035. These sources met 70 per cent of the drinking water needs of north India, which was equal to 40 per cent of world’s population, she said.

Ms. Malhotra recalled the works by Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa (retd.) concerning Siachen glacier and Col. C.M. Muthanna (retd.), president of the Coorg Wildlife Society, concerning the Himalayan countries.

Preserving the eco-systems were vital, she said and added that 50 per cent of the rains came because of the transpiration process in the trees. Leaves of trees let out the moisture resulting in cloud formation.

Ms. Malhotra said Karnataka was second only to Rajastan in terms of desertification.

Col. Muthanna (retd.), president of the Coorg Wildlife Society, who welcomed the gathering, laid emphasis on the need to protect the Western Ghats, one of the 25 hotspots of biodiversity in the world.

Lt. Gen. B.C. Nanda (retd.), Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa (retd.), zilla panchayat president Deerghakeshi Shivanna, and Madikeri Deputy Conservator of Forests B.B. Mallesh were present.

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