04 April, 2006

The Threat To our Species

Half of all living bird and mammal species will be gone within 200 or 300 years, according to a botany professor at The University of Texas at Austin. When I arrived in Hadhramaut, for the first time, about twenty years ago, I had the luck of seeing most of it - still pristine and unspoiled; but with the rapid changes that has been taking place here, especially in recent years - Hadhramaut's ecosystem too, is in danger of being overwhelmed.

For years now, I have never seen a hyena around; and yet before I could see one every now and then; and now too, I am seeing fewer and fewer foxes and wild rabbits. Each middle of the year, thousands of turtles come to the shores of Hadhramout to lay their eggs; and though there is government protection, the number of turtles that I now see, especially around Mukalla - are much fewer too. It is only with the dolphins that I have not yet noticed much change with their numbers. As for the fauna and plant life, the damage has been much too; but it is relieving and refreshing to see - more and more gardens of trees and flowers being created in all the major urban areas.

With one of the fastest growing populations in the region, and a boom in real estate construction and oil prospecting - more and more damage will be done. There are too many changes taking place around Hadhramout : roads, buildings, factories - have all increased at break neck speed. Oil prospecting in the deserts, mountains and valleys have intensified too. And this would only endanger the environment and the ecosystem, more. Just as in the name of ' progress' and ' development' - we, humanity, are endangering our own existence worldwide!