When reading the April 2015 issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine earlier, I thoroughly enjoyed Bill Oddie’s column, ‘Wild at Heart’. In the article, he discusses how so often at wildlife campaigns and events, journalists ask ‘Why is wildlife important?’ For me, the answer is simply that I couldn’t imagine a life with it. A world with no trees, birds or other animals is unthinkable. Not only is the existence of photosynthesising plants essential to our own existence (I wonder how many people realise that), but a world without nature would, for me, indicate the beginning of an apocalypse; a rapid downward spiral into an empty void. Biodiversity matters because it supports what we take from the natural environment, which is plenty.
Oddie said that asking ‘Why is wildlife important?’ is like asking ‘Why is music, art or theatre important?’ The fact is, all of these shape our society. Naturalists often get tainted with a negative image whereby people assume that because their priority is the protection of wildlife, they don’t care about the wellbeing of their own species. For instance, is the protection of rare species such as the Great-Crested Newt a more pressing matter than the current state of the NHS? The answer, of course, is that all issues are important, but my point is that humans will never be extinct. Unless, of course, there is a sudden meteor shower and we are all wiped out. We are the master race. In my humble opinion, the priority should so often be the wildlife. The extinction rate is ever increasing, and currently stands at 1000 times the natural rate, all to fuel mankind’s ruthless desire to better their own lives, careless of the consequences.
I want to end with a compelling quote from Mahatma Ghandi, which was included in Oddie’s article:
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.”