All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
(Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818-1895)
Then what criteria should we use to decide which species to save? It is a difficult question, a dilemma.Wish we could save the them all.
And the fact is that you cannot save the planet by saving one species here and another species there. It requires looking at the larger picture and at the long-term conservation of habitats and ecosystems on earth. And that is species can never be looked at in isolation with one another. So my attempt here is to identify species from the list that can be grouped and conserved as part of a holistic plan. I am no wildlife expert so most of these will be conjectures, so please feel free to take my views apart if they are too naive.
I feel the following three animals share an ecosystem and therefore, conserving them will lead to an increase in the overall health of the ecosystem:
Indian Bullfrog – These large frogs look dull otherwise, but during the mating season they turn bright yellow. They are listed as Least Concern (LC) in the IUCN Red List Category, and are found quite commonly in many parts of India. But their populations are projected to decline in the coming years because of water pollution and loss of habitat. These frogs are frequently preyed upon by the Spectacled Cobras and conserving them will lead to conservation of the latter too.
Spectacled Cobra – A highly venomous medium-sized snake, the spectacled cobra is easily identifiable because of a spectacle-like mark on its hood. Though not yet an endangered species, there are now reports of it being hunted for its hood. Moreover, it is often found close to human habitation and can even enter buildings in search of rodents. Conserving this species will ensure that it continues to thrive in the wild and is able to maintain a healthy population. The national bird of Inida, the Indian Peacock, often feeds on Indian Cobras and as a result, conserving it will indirectly benefit the peacock.
Indian Peacock – The Indian peacock needs no introduction. This magnificent bird is central to many fables and stories, and because of its bright plumage and large size is easily the most impressive bird. It’s “dance” is one of the most elaborate mating rituals in the world. The bird is spread across a large range and its population appears to be stable and, therefore, it is listed as “Least Concern” in the IUCN Red List. The species is at times preyed upon by leopards, dholes, and tigers, and the bird is also hunted for its plumage and for its meat. They may succumb to accidental poisoning by feeding on seeds treated with pesticides.
Hopefully, if we are able to conserve these three species that often share habitats and form food chains, we will be able to sustain a healthy status of their populations in the long-term. Conserving these species will also lead to a conservation of other living beings (flora and fauna) that live in the same area.
Similarly we can form other groups to conserve, for example, Indian Hog Deer and Leopards, Mehseer and Gharial, Sambar and Tiger etc. Conservation of isolated species is more prone to failures. In the case of large predators we often see that the population can only increase to a limit because of limited area and diminishing prey, as we often see in case of tiger conservation. But a holistic view can perhaps make a real difference here.