City lights and wildlife
J. MURALI, Education Officer, WWF- India Tamil Nadu Office
Living in the wild has its special charm. But what about living in an urban environment?
View from the window...
Wildlife means more than just lions, tigers and elephants. Wildlife refers to any undomesticated animal and uncultivated plants. It is difficult to think of wildlife in an urban environment. But, we do share space with wildlife regardless of where we live. Ignorance is a major reason why people do not appreciate nature and wildlife. As the members of a natural community, our well being depends on the existence of life forms. We need a diversity of wildlife around us, because each species plays a key role. For example, life forms are responsible for creating oxygen, disposing of waste, and pollinating crops. In a world where countless life forms become extinct every year, there's an urgent need for us to understand that everything is connected. None of the five million species on earth, including Homo sapiens, can survive without each other or without healthy habitat. We've built cities and towns for people to live in. Now, it's time that we made the cities more liveable for wildlife too.
If you have an interest in nature and its environs then even your city or town could be a sanctuary to watch and appreciate. Every time you look out of your window you could see the magnificent world of wildlife. You could use a pair of binoculars and a camera and they will surely help you to grow from nature lover to naturalist.
Irrespective of whether you live on the ground floor or on the 10th floor you will find creepy crawlies, wasps, moth cocoons and so on.When you look out of your window, you can see birds like the mynah, magpie robin, cuckoo. In winter you will see a variety of migrant birds. If you have a garden or kitchen garden you can find butterflies, caterpillars, spiders and insects of various kinds. After the rain you can find earthworms and molluscs like snails in the wet mud.
The other places in the urban environment to watch for wildlife are water bodies and swamps. Water plants are the main attraction in an unpolluted water body. Water lilies, duck weed, pondweed support many aquatic organisms. These plants add more oxygen to water. It ensures healthy survival of aquatic animals.
Parks and other landscapes created in the urban areas attract wildlife. Plant species vary from local varieties to exotic. Flowering plants attract insects, birds and butterflies. Coastal habitats harbour different and unique wildlife. Coastal habitat ranging from rocky shores to sandy beaches, coastal wetlands, estuaries, and lagoons support different kinds of plants and animals. Depending upon the habitat mangrove vegetation, sea grass and seaweed act as food and shelter to aquatic animals. Molluscs, seashells, crab, chunks are a few of the marine invertebrates found near the seashore. Few varieties of marine turtles visit the sandy beaches for nesting during the winter season. Common terns and sea gulls are some of the birds normally seen near the coast.
There are numerous places in the city that support wildlife. We need to learn more about the natural history of the town or city you live in. This may create in you an interest to explore habitats and discover life forms.
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