India is one of the ten most forest-rich countries of the world along with the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, United States of America, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia, Indonesia and Sudan. India and these countries account for 67 per cent of the total forest area of the world. The nation’s consumption of fuel wood is about five times higher than what can be sustainably removed from forests.
However, a large percentage of this fuel-wood is grown as biomass remaining from agriculture, and is managed outside forests. Fuel-wood meets about 40 per cent of the energy needs of the country. Around 80 per cent of rural people and 48 per cent of the urban people use fuel-wood. Unless, India makes major, rapid and sustained effort to expand electricity generation and power plants, the rural and urban poor will continue to meet their energy needs through unsustainable destruction of forests and fuel wood consumption. India’s dependence on fuel-wood and forestry products as a primary energy source is not only environmentally unsustainable; it is a primary cause of India’s near-permanent haze and air pollution. Despite all this quantity we still import wood at cheaper rates to meet our needs which we should stop since 24 per cent of India is covered by forests.
Our pride of course is the lion – the big cat. Conservation and increasing their numbers must become an imperative the government should ensure. As per reports on the last lion census there are 523 animals concentrated in just four districts. A recent survey had one of the conservationist say of wild life that the risk from disease, natural calamities is multiplied when numerous animals are concentrated in a small area. That’s not speaking much. When you read news that they roam freely outside the National Gir forests and are among people your heart swells with pride too. Recently, flash floods in Gujarat killed eight of them and 600 blue bulls. The Madhya Pradesh government has tried hard to convince the Gir people that some of them should be relocated to the Kouno Park near Rathambore which is a sanctuary to the national animal ‘the tiger’. But Gujarat refused to comply in 2013 when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat. What action will he take as a Prime Minister is of great concern. Their contention was that how will lions and tigers live together but a judgement given in April 2015 makes the case against relocation because there are examples that lions and tigers have shared habitat without any detriment to either. Let’s hope that they are given more habitats and their lives are not in peril
“India’s Wandering lions” captures the incredible tolerance of the people to the big cats. This film directed By Pravin Singh is premiering on Discovery channel which he tracked for two and a half years. It’s a treat for those who love animals. The more we have of them the more we will roar.
Alka V Aswani