Sunday, November 2, 2014

Living Planet Index and why it is necessary to save Tigers?

The Living Planet Index (LPI) is an indicator of the state of global biological diversity, based on trends in vertebrate populations of species from around the world. Recent report shows that more than half of the world's vertebrates have disappeared between 1970 and 2010. In the same period, the human population nearly doubled. Bloomberg writes that “If animals were stocks, the market would be crashing”. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-30/depressed-market-half-of-world-s-wildlife-disappears-in-40-years.html). The report also points out that humans are currently drawing more from natural resources than the Earth is able to provide.

Source: Bloomberg

If we had cared for Tigers we would have reduced some of the damage done to the biological diversity. One may wonder how Tigers matter. Why the mankind should bother about the Tiger? After all, it is a ferocious animal which can never be domesticated and can turn into a man-eater when not able to hunt. But Tiger is at the top of food chain. For its population to increase, the prey base has to increase at some proportion.  For the prey base to thrive, the feed stock for those animals should be sufficiently available. That would demand for the forest to expand to provide for these animals. A home for tiger is a home for other animals too. The forest that houses Tigers and the diverse wildlife also serves many other functions that of a rain catchment area, of slowly releasing ground water to regulate floods, and as a natural factory to convert carbon into oxygen bringing an ecological balance. Now you see that Tiger count is a very good indicator of the health of the ecosystem as the Tigers as the highest predators shape the ecosystems in which they live.

Source: National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA)
If Tiger’s population is decreasing naturally over decades, it does mean that the whole pyramid of animal diversity is shrinking. When we disturb the ecological balance, the nature takes its toll in one way (global warming) or another (floods, river siltation etc.). For human development to continue, we need to take better account of our resources. Right now except for human beings, life on Earth is not a bull market. If other animals count is reduced to half now, what will the man kill when the remaining animals become a minority? Ghost of Malthus will rise if we do not respect the forest boundaries and force the remaining animals to extinct.