Living in a Biodiversity-Hotspot

In a What? In an area that is characterized by a significant diversity of species threatened by various influencing negative factors. A Biodiversity-Hotspot. The disturbance of the biological balance are mostly caused by a single species: The Homo Sapiens, as we are commonly called. That there are conflicting interests in a region where on an average thousand people settle per square kilometre is understandable. Some species manage to remain in awareness. Bengal’s pride, the Royal Tiger, frequently makes it into the media. After all it is the heraldic animal of India. And for tourists it even is part of the adventure that during the safari it is prohibited to descend from the jeep due to the danger of an attack. Tiger attacks on tourists are rare, elephants and rhinos are much bigger a threat. But many people live on the fringes of forest areas and the settlement areas are cutting deeper and deeper into the wildlife migration routes. Thus beastly visits are daily routine in many villages. And fights „eye to eye“ are not a rare happening – fear has its own rules.

A moth in the East Himalaya
Close-up of a moth

But biodiversity doesn’t run out on the prominent flagship species. They are counting only for a evanescent part. In our place biodiversity can be experienced regularly in and around the house. The beginning of spring is the time of the dragon flies. Not the nice colourful ones that I remember from my childhood but rather dreary ones. They assemble in the evening around the sources of light – a thousandfold. Since it is advisable to keep shut the mouth during the homeward bicycle ride and the doors and windows of the house. Against the mosquitos besides the nettings on the windows and over the bed chemical appliances are quite striking. Whether electrical evaporators for the power soccet or as a creme for application on the skin, everything is better than being stung. And it helps: The anti-itching ointment tube is still firmly filled. Two colleagues report that in former times it had been much extremer. And not only in terms of midgets, generally less beasts roam around. In that sense we are lucky – somehow.

In Darjeeling I am part of a programme that has committed itself to the protection of the Himalayan Salamander. That creatures environs – small ponts and pools – is also shrinking. Canalisation relocates waterways and in a dried up pont bugs and vermins won’t breed – resulting in less amount of pricks. Thus the cute Salamander is not only losing its environ but its nutrition as well. This fate it shares with several other critters that are feeding on insects. And consequently the birds have to fly few extra rounds before they get something in their beaks. The little predators have to search a little longer before they spot a tasty winged animals. And the Tigers prowl a few extra kilometres to encounter prey. But – at least they have less stings.

Frankly – who hasn’t yet complained when in the room during the night to many and to disgusting visitors have been guests. Ants, cockroaches, centipedes. Especially in remote areas, often destinations of wildlife holidays, such room mates are not a rarety. The customer is king and which hotelier wouldn’t – hurt in his pride – diligently care for a bit more “privacy” inside its premises. And thus the guest will be service mindedly given besides the mosquito net a chemical weapon or the staff is trained in the use of it. How else can a guest well rested after a peaceful night go on a safari. Without prick, like the Tiger. That the latter is spotted ever more rarely increases the exclusivity of the holiday pleasure. And if one day the noble great cat cannot be spotted anymore at all the animal lover can shift to an alternative programme: In Vienna every year the fireflies are counted. Also an endangered species. But how I now can credibly communicate my rapturousness for butterflies, I’m still at loss with.


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