Happy World Wildlife Day, You Leeches!

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed, like the one in the title, are those of the author, not a reflection of DYT.

I was born into a family that treasured animals. While normal households in the ’90s had dogs as pets, mine had dogs and cows. And no, it is not an exaggeration and the question of why it’s a comical story is for another day. What bears significance here is that my love for creatures was years in the making.

Maybe that is why the horror of present times is tormenting. Each new image, video, fact and documentary depicting the devastating ramifications to wildlife is a lash on the soul followed by the refrain ‘When will people wake up?

So, my fellow humans, the journey we take today is not about ‘sit back and relax.’ It is about getting you off your fat keisters and paying attention.

Higher the Stakes, the Bigger the Fall

Because nothing paints a clearer picture than, well, a picture that’s what I endeavour to do here. With a few visuals, some inadequate words and no punches pulled, I explain what World Wildlife Day truly means.

To understand the calamitous effect of our activities, you need to have a semblance of the enormousness of wildlife.

Of all life on Earth, you and I make up 0.01%.

(source: Guardian)

See the tiny dot on the left side of the image? That’s us. We’re more a smudge than an actual circle. Yet, we have somehow lost 83% of wild animals since civilization began.

If that doesn’t give you a brick in the stomach, how about this, since 1970, we’ve shrivelled the global wildlife population by 60%! To put it in perspective: imagine slowly erasing the entire human population of Asia. That’s 48 countries devoid of mankind.

A pictorial representation of how much 60% is, keep your eye on Asia’s bar.

And That’s How World Wildlife Day Began

UN declared 3rd March as #WorldWildlifeDay in 2013 because 0.01% of life (us) imperilled the rest of it. It is meant to a) celebrate the beauty of wild animals and plants in all their forms and b) raise awareness of the vital, unparalleled necessity for their preservation.

Out of the 366 days in this year, it is measly 24 hours for you to appreciate that without trees, there’s no clean air to breathe and without plants and animals, there’s no food to sustain our bodies.

But Why Do We Need to Celebrate Wildlife Day?

Back in December, Twitter threw at me a mind-boggling and riveting graphic that takes you through all the depths of the sea. Here’s a small peek:

https://twitter.com/nealagarwal/status/1201547301061365760?s=20

(Credit: Neal Agarwal)

When you have a minute, go to the actual web page. As you scroll, you’ll see tidbits like the “deepest any human has ever scuba dived” is 332 meters. At 8848 meters, the words “You have scrolled the height of Mount Everest” come on the screen.

(source: neal.fun)

The page ends at 10922 meters, the deepest point in the ocean. We call it the Challenger Deep and it is part of the Mariana Trench. It took us 9 more years after landing on the effing Moon, something that is not even of this world, to reach it. Let that soak in.

Guess what can be found in the Mariana Trench these days? Plastic! The buffoonery of man has sent something that takes 1000 years to decompose to a nook that is 36,000 feet deep. And yes, sea life exists here.

(source: National Geographic)

Remember this photo? It’s proof that our actions, particularly the scourge of plastic, is destroying flora and fauna not just at the bottom of the ocean, but at the surface too. In the words of Justin Hofman, the explorer who took the picture:

“It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but now that it does I want everyone to see it.”

This is the natural outcome of dumping 8 million tons of plastic each year in the sea and the reason why we need to celebrate 3rd March. Our actions are demolishing wildlife piece by piece, like leeches slowly draining the lifeblood of the planet.

Let me be more explicit…

The next two illustrations are slightly graphic. For people with triggers, please jump here. For people who think we’re not hurtling into the point of no return, spend more than a few seconds to really look at them.

(source: Nat Geo)

Paul Nicklen, a photographer, came across this starving polar bear clinging to dear life in the Canadian Arctic. Here’s the full video of it. Watch it or better yet read the article.

(source: Instagram)

That’s a burnt carcass of a baby kangaroo, one of the 1.25 billion animals who perished because of Australian Bushfires. Although bushfires are the norm in the country, this time was an unprecedented catastrophe fuelled by climate change.

This is the scale of what we have done to wildlife. It’s frustrating. It’s saddening and it’s a bleak glimpse of the future.

Is this indeed the planet you want?

Build A World That Sustains All Life, Not Just Ours

Continuing to ignore the impact of our wasteful lives and unsustainable habits is no longer an option. As Tanya Steel, WWF’s Chief Executive puts it:

“We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.”

There is still hope.

With brave, progressive steps, we can work towards conserving what is left. Be more mindful of your footprint. For every small choice you make, think of the consequences.

If you have an outsized voice, speak up and teach the world to be more compassionate this World Wildlife Day. And if you can’t do that, educate yourself. Go follow Oceana, Dr. Jane Goodall and WWF.

I leave you on a lighter note with this heartening video. It expresses beautifully how nature can turn something as prosaic as playing catch into the extraordinary.

P.S: While I am very proactive and vocal about wildlife offline, I have never spoken a word about it online. It was terrifying to write this and it wouldn’t have been possible without DYT. For that, here’s a thank you from the Mariana Trench of my heart to Ankit (aka the Big Boss at the creator-community).

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