India has an incredible level of biodiversity, with only 2.4% of world’s land area, India accounts for 7-8% of recorded species of the world. In terms of specie richness, India ranks seventh in mammals, ninth in birds and fifth in reptiles. However, children in India have little appreciation or awareness of this biodiversity. It is important that they develop an appreciation about wildlife and the importance of their natural environment for long-term sustainability.
Here are five reasons why we should sensitise children to the natural world & wildlife:
Wildlife conservation is reliant on our children: Children develop an understanding of the world through active hands-on investigation. A supportive active learning environment encourages a child’s engagement with the environment and by teaching them the importance of wildlife early, it will be possible to instil a sense of respect and appreciation for Mother Nature.
Rising instances of Man Vs Animal conflict: Thanks to rapid urbanization, human habitations are encroaching into forests and forcing wildlife to stray into places where people live. Data presented in the Parliament shows that more people (1,360 people) were killed by tigers and elephants than human fatalities in Maoist red zones. Sensitisation programs will help people understand what to do in case a wild animal strays into areas inhabited by people.
Well rounded development: There is increasing evidence that nature has a profound impact on our brains and behavior, and even more so in the case of children as a greater connection leads to better test scores, have higher wellbeing and pro-nature behaviours. Proximity to nature helps enhance cognitive abilities, increase physical activities, improves nutrition, reduces stress and support creativity and problem solving, etc.
Climate change and global warming: From polar bears to sea turtles, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk from global warming and the changing climate. The fact that every day activities can potentially alter the Earth’s atmosphere is now serious enough to demand sensitization programs not just for adults, but also children. These programs will help children understand how caring for the environment plays a major role in keeping global warming at bay and also conserving wildlife in the process.
Learning empathy and care: These days, dehumanization of nature has been normalized to such an extent that compassion towards animals and wildlife has become an alien concept. . Learning about wildlife can be used to inculcate values of compassion, kindness, tolerance and empathy. Fostering empathy—the ability to understand what others feel—is perhaps the most effective way of inhibiting aggression and bullying tendencies. .
Nature makes us feel alive and sensitization programs will help our children stay connected to the natural world. This, in itself, will be a good enough objective for all of us to work towards.