India is home to over 91,000 species of animals and 45,000 plant species that flourish in the country’s mountains, forests, seas rivers, and other water bodies, and deserts. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), around 8% of all recorded plant and animal species live in India.
In India, we have traditionally lived in close harmony with our natural world. Our mythology and ancient texts showcase a major role played by plants and animals. The legend of Hanuman, the Monkey God who transported an entire mountain as the life-saving sanjeevani plant grew on it, is well-known.
Ayurveda, the ancient art of herbal medicine, is today recognised as a science in India. The daily worship of the tulsi plant (holy basil) takes a place of pride in millions of courtyards—our ancestors seemed to know about its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties much before the scientific world discovered them. Herbs such as haldi (turmeric) which has, for ages, been a ubiquitous ingredient in Indian cuisine, is today acknowledged as a great antiseptic.
Over the years, however, urbanisation and development have brought about an imbalance in the harmonious coexistence of humans with nature, and this has taken a toll on the thousands of species of flora and fauna that once flourished. There is a threat to their existence and urgent steps are needed to provide protection.
Primates, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, spiders, coral, trees and plants make up close to 1,000 species from India that are placed on the IUCN’s Red List. Many of these are endemic to the country and, if not protected, will vanish forever from the face of the earth.
This year the global theme of Earth Day 2019 was ‘Protect our Species’ and to commemorate the same, Earth Day Network – India team compiled an eBook on inspiring case studies on people’s approach to protecting these species. On October 6, 2019, Karuna Singh, country director, EDN-India launched the 5th edition of its “Pathways to Green India” eBook at the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum, organised by Balipara Foundation in Guwahati.
A compilation of 17 stories of people’s approaches to protecting the species, the book demonstrates the exemplary work done by individuals and institutions across the length and breadth of our country. The case-studies include the beautiful coral reefs of the Andaman Islands that are being saved from dying out, conservation of Hangul in Kashmir of which just 200 are left now, the efforts to protect the Gangetic River Dolphins.
The book also talks about sacred groves that remain untouched, efforts to bring the twittering house sparrows back to urban spaces, finding homes for hornbills to nest in, forgotten rice species now back on our plates, dancing frogs, the almost-forgotten Kamdhenu, gossamer-winged odonates, art to help conserve elephants and more!
Know more best-practices to protect our species? We would love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with photos, videos, stories and quotes about the conservation of species and impacts.
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