Success for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) can only come one animal at a time
In a bid to reintroduce the protection of biodiversity to the ongoing CBD conference the International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) hosted a showcase on ‘wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and welfare as an essential wildlife conservation tool’. Chairing the session, Dr MK Ranjitsinh, Chairman of WTI stressed, “Welfare is the bedrock of conservation.
The CBD strategy spells out 20 Aichi targets on biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of resources. “There are at least seven Aichi targets that need to include animal welfare to achieve conservation goals,” said Peter Pueschel, Programme Director – IFAW. “Policy makers have utterly failed to realize that the ideas, concepts, goals and targets they are discussing are made up of individual, intrinsically valuable animals.
During the last ten years the IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) and its Mobile Veterinary Service units have saved more than 1500 wild animal lives of about 166 species including tigers, rhinos, elephants, bears and clouded leopards.
CWRC has shown how individual animal welfare can be linked to conservation. As an example, orphaned rhino calves from Kaziranga were hand-raised at CWRC and moved to Manas, kickstarting the crucial reintroduction programme in 2006. This is helping recreate a population that was completely wiped out.
Likewise, elephant calves – displaced or orphaned – have been hand-raised and reintegrated with wild herds, if not reunited with their natal herds.
"Long-term rehabilitation rather than packing them off to zoos, is a viable and preferred option for displaced wild animals. How many animals can we afford to lose from our wilds? None. This is not only a welfare initiative, but over long-term accumulative rescue and rehabilitation work will have an impact on conservation. What we have been doing is not only returning the animals to contribute to the wild gene pool, but also establishing the trend of returning various displaced wildlife species back to the wild in India and mainstreaming this,” said Vivek Menon, Executive Director, WTI.
The IFAW-WTI event saw experts sharing their experiences, the difficulties faced and challenges overcome in bringing about focus on individual animal welfare. Prof PC Bhattacharjee, Executive Trustee, WTI, credited the Forest Department authorities of northeast India to have made this possible.
Documentaries on the rescue and rehabilitation activities undertaken by IFAW-WTI were also screened at the event, hosted by Dr NVK Ashraf, Chief Veterinarian of WTI.
Douglas Cress, Great Apes Partnership (GRASP) Programme Coordinator, and one of the attendees of the event said, “The work IFAW-WTI is doing is powerful and commendable. I congratulate you all. These video clips (of orphaned elephants, rhinos, clouded leopards being rehabilitated back in the wild) must be shown to the governments to bring about policy changes. You are literally putting value back in the forest.”
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.