Scientist: Valmik Thapar
Spiritual ConservationAmbience: Animal sounds, IndiaHere’s a program from our archives.In an age where species are disappearing at an ever increasing rate, some endangered animals are being kept from extinction by one of the oldest conservation movements in the world: religious tradition. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Valmik Thapar is the Director of the Ranthambore Foundation, a conservation organization based in India. He tells us that the last of the world’s black soft shelled turtles are being kept alive by a group of Hindus who consider these animals sacred.Thapar: In Bangladesh there’s a tank near the shrine of a saint where the only wild population of the black soft shelled turtle is found today. I think there are two hundred and fifty to three hundred turtles in this one tank and the pilgrims all come to this place and feed the turtles and the turtles are actually quite big. This species is only found in Bangladesh. It’s gone extinct everywhere else in the wild.This spiritual regard for nature has helped conserve wildlife diversity in the India subcontinent.Thapar: I think the only reason why there is a rich diversity of wildlife, why half the world’s tigers live in India, why we have rhinos, why we have elephants, why we have some of the most exotic butterflies, why we have a variety of species from the snow leopard to the red panda is because people had a deep rooted connection with nature in their myth, legend, religion. You had Hinduism; you had Buddhism and you had Jainism all very strongly embracing nature. You give nature the right to life as much as you give yourself the right to life. And this is what a lot of the world has forgotten.Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.