World Wildlife Day

Mar 3, 20220 comments

When you hear the term “wildlife,” most people might picture animals, but it includes not only the animals but flora and fauna in the area as well. These living things are not introduced by humans but are found in the wild. Different wildlife lives in every ecosystem, including forests, oceans, deserts, and more.  Today on World Wildlife Day, we lead to the question “Why is wildlife important?”

1. Wildlife maintains balance in ecosystems.
Every living organism within an ecosystem is connected to one another. If even just one organism in the ecosystem becomes threatened or extinct, it has a domino effect on the entire ecosystem. It disrupts the food chain, sending shockwaves through the natural environment. It’s also important to know that threats to species hardly ever happen in isolation. For ecosystems to thrive, all wildlife must be protected, from the biggest animals to the smallest of insects.

2. Diversity of wildlife means a healthier ecosystem.
When discussing wildlife, you’ll often hear the term “biodiversity.” This refers to the number of species in an ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems have a lot of diversity… Why is this important? Consider plants. A wide variety of plants means greater productivity and better health. If there are fewer plant species, a disease that affects them spreads faster and more effectively. More variety means better resistance.

Kapama wildlife
3. People depend immensely on wildlife. 
Disease control:
The preservation of wildlife and where they live is important for human health. Research shows that in diverse, protected natural areas, there are fewer instances of malaria and Lyme disease. 60% of infectious diseases come from animals. Proximity to animals increases the risks for diseases changing and “jumping” species. By protecting habitats, humans and wildlife don’t have to live so close together, which will in return lower the risk for diseases that are transmitted between species.
Nutrients to humans:
Everything we eat originates from either an animal or plants. While we don’t eat as much “wildlife” as we used to because the food supply chain has become so industrial, crops and animals were at one point wildlife as well. Many people in rural areas still depend on wildlife for their food, as well. Without a variety of food sources, our nutrition will deteriorate. Protecting wildlife and natural habitats strengthens food security and increase the nutritional value around the world. We can also improve nutrition by returning to more wild food sources and diversifying our diets.
For their livelihoods:
For many people, wildlife is their main source of income. According to the World Economic Forum, more than
R659 trillion – more than half the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is tied to nature. Globally, ¾ jobs depend on water, which is part of nature and wildlife, thus as wildlife and their habitats shrink, jobs will be lost.
Importance for the economy
Wildlife conservation areas and preserved natural habitats attract visitors from all over the world. Many places depend on wildlife for tourism, which makes up over 10% of the world’s GDP. Many Countries are especially dependent on tourism. Without wildlife, the economy of many countries would suffer significantly. Speaking of the economy, wildlife preservation also creates more jobs. As an example, big conservation and sustainable management projects can create many job opportunities and increase the income in the area. The creation of “green” jobs leads to a more sustainable and productive economy.
Humans have always turned to nature for medicine. Many medical systems still rely on herbs, spices, and more, but even pharmaceuticals wouldn’t be where they are today without wildlife. Medicines like penicillin, morphine, and aspirin were derived from wild plants. When searching for cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, researchers still look to nature. The more wildlife options they must study, the better the chances of finding cures for diseases.
Cultural significance
The impact wildlife has on culture cannot be ignored. The presence of animals and plants has always influenced things like religious beliefs and food. In many indigenous groups, sage is a vital herb for religious ceremonies. For followers of Hinduism, elephants and cows are sacred symbols. Regional dishes made with local ingredients preserve memory and tradition, while also bringing communities together. To keep culture and traditions alive, it’s important to protect wildlife.
Mental health
There’s a global mental health crisis. Evidence shows that nature can help. People who live close to natural environments and wildlife are found to be more active, emotionally strong, and physically healthier. Thus, to protect our mental health, we need to protect wildlife and the habitats they live in.
Here at Kapama Private Game Reserve, we do our very best to conserve the environment that we have set aside for the preservation and conservation of the natural environment.
Kapama wildlife day giraffe
Kapama wildlife day leopard
Kapama wildlife day lion at night

Our guides doing the game drives with guests, try and instil an admiration and appreciation for the environment and the utter necessity to protect that which what we have. Having individuals coming from all over the world gives an absolute reason to keep places like Kapama private game reserve going.

For without the visitors there would be no reason to have reserves. The land will be repurposed for agricultural, livestock, mining, and real-estate development. Once this happens, we lose biodiversity and replace it with monoculture and concrete. This will have a devastating effect on the natural world. We as a dominant species who are still a part of the ecosystem are very reliant on the natural world.

Thus, it is important to remember that without people, nature and wildlife will flourish and grow yet without nature and wildlife people will surely perish. So, let’s remember how important wildlife is and continue to look after it and help protect it to the best of our ability.

Story by: Kapama Southern Camp  Ranger Lindi Taljaard

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