It would not be shocking to say that the current war in the Middle East has extremely effected the environment. Chemicals seeping into water, soil becoming contaminated, and habitats being destroyed are all results of warfare. Animals have to seek shelter in unfamiliar areas, leaving them with a lack of resources to survive. However, it is also important to note the correlation between the economy and how it effects the environment in times such as this. What drives people to make money can be equally harmful to the wildlife in which they share a territory with.
Leopard Skins For Everyone! Unfortunately.
As the current conflicts in the Middle East began to arise in the early 2000s, poaching has become a favored way for some people to make money. Although bans on hunting across Afghanistan have been placed, they are not being strictly implemented. I do not by any means agree with poaching, however, Afghans lives have drastically changed throughout the past few years, leaving them to struggle economically. Skins of animals can be sold for a great deal of money, which is driving them to fuel this market.
Eyes on the Big Guys
As a result of poaching, Snow Leopards are struggling to maintain an existence throughout the region. Snow Leopards used to have a great population in the Middle East, but the seeking of their skin drove this to no longer be the case. Poaching has the potential to dramatically impact their existence not only in this region, but around the world.
The quote above is interesting seeing that the first few images that come to mind when thinking of African wildlife generally consist of lions, tigers, and other big cats. With the decreasing population of them in Afghanistan, it is important to note that at one point was home to more big cats than a whole continent. This statistic demonstrates the extremes of what Snow Leopards and other wildlife could face in the future.
Don’t Forget About Us
Amongst the Snow Leopard, the Sand Cat and Asiatic Black Bear are both considered endangered species throughout Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. While the Sand Cat’s endangerment could be argued that it is a result of food and water, these animals are able to last long periods of time without them. This refutes the argument, leaving poaching to be the reason of an extreme decrease in their population. In Pakistan, a similar argument could be made for the Asiatic Black Bear’s saying that their journey to extinction is a result of their woodland habitats being destroyed. However, just as the Snow Leopard’s and Sand Cat’s, they are being killed off with their remains being sold and distributed for money.
What will be left?
Extreme environmental changes will take years, even decades to restore. Whether it is from pollution, destruction of land, or as previously discussed, poaching, there is not a simple solution that can fix these problems over night. People aren’t willing to listen, just as much as they need to survive. Seeing that these animals are amongst the few in existence, does the current war have the potential to extinct them? Understanding that so much is already at risk, will the animals be able to create life elsewhere? How can those who previously participated in poaching seek the same income elsewhere? Could they do so through working with animals, rather than harming them?
These are all questions that come to mind when reflecting upon this issues. While the articles presented information based on previous wars and research that was done before 2014, I am interested to see how the outcomes of the current war will effect the current species struggling to survive, and if there will be more species considered “endangered.” It will also be interesting to see what conservation projects will be implemented. While I do plan to work abroad in the future, I think restoring the environment in the Middle East would be a great project to take part in.