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Isna Hanifah

Year-Prize: The 13th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Time for Nature

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Isna Hanifah (Indonesia)
Eco-generation Prize



When I first saw the documentary film “The Racing Extinction”, it was the time when my heart opened up how my country was in the spotlight of the world's attention because it participated in the mass extinction of marine biodiversity. I saw an outsider who cared so much about the manta rays that got caught and finally helped and convinced manta to fly again in the water.
Indonesia is indeed rich in marine products, one of them is manta rays. Manta rays are one of the large fish populations that have been protected by the Indonesian government who have made fixed rules . This fish has spread across the islands of Indonesia, but unfortunately   Indonesian people awareness about illegal fishing is still low, especially for fishing the manta rays. Manta rays do not have a sting, so they are vulnerable to predators such as dolphins. Manta rays are good fish that protect and provide food for the small fish in their bodies, if manta rays are continuously hunted, these small fish will also decrease and become extinct as well as their predatory fish, then the marine ecosystem will gradually lost.
With its beauty, manta rays often become the target of irresponsible hunters. The body parts of manta rays that are much hunted are gills, they are believed this gills could beneficial for the stamina of adult men and herbal remedies for several diseases. One kilogram of manta rays gills is valued at IDR 2,000,000 (USD 135) obtained from 2 manta rays. Manta rays are usually exported to China and Hong Kong. Many people are tempted by the selling price so that the existence of this marine biota is threatened. Until now, the population of manta rays has decreased quite drastically, namely 52% and categorized as extinct by the IUCN . Manta rays reach maturity for reproduction in 6 to 15 years. In addition, the number of chicks produced is 1 fish in a gestation period of 2 to 5 years, so if a manta ray lives up to 40 years, the ability to breed is only 6-8 fish. We can imagine what will happen if manta rays are being hunted at large amount continuously.
In Lamakera, Indonesia, this fish is the most hunted one. This is because the villagers complain that their livelihoods on the mainland are very minimal. Their area does not have rice fields, so only fishery commodities can be relied on. Indeed, insting for human survival has been around for a long time. The choice is not about damage or not damage the environment, but on which potential maximizes survival. Yet if we humans think like that, it will destroy the biodiversity on earth. Because physiologically, humans are very depend on biodiversity.
Apart from the problem of illegal fishing, manta rays are also often affected by marine debris. Manta rays are type of food filter. Manta rays, who usually eats plankton, but cannot distinguish what is consumed, instead eats plastic waste with a high concentration of toxins. Based on research by the Center of Remote Sensing and Ocean Sciences at Udayana University. the potential for Manta rays to ingest microplastics ranges from 40-90 pieces per hour.
So, how its effective to stop this biodiversity loss? By fostering marine areas in Indonesia, especially in coastal areas where there are major sources of biodiversity which are protected biodiversity both regarding job transfer and education about the impact of biodiversity loss. Not only for the vulnerable one, but also for biodiversity as a whole. A method that can be used is none other than showing some government advertisements on television channels, YouTube, Instagram about manta rays extinction. In addition, the government must also ensure that the export of illegal goods is further tightened, especially in countries that really need manta rays supply.
Manta rays also attract divers in my country. Many foreign tourists who come all the way to Indonesia keen to diving with manta rays. If allowed to live, the economic value of manta ray tourism is more profitable and sustainable of course. Catching and trading manta rays is not the right choice.
Even so, not everyone in Indonesia is constantly crazy about the use of biodiversity. There is a 16 years old student named Salsabila, together with the “Jaga Rimba” group who always voices the interests of the existence of nature. Salsa and her friends skip their school and make protest and promote about environment and forest protection. From this, we understand that their intentions and sincerity need to be followed, there must be other children like them here. Education in Indonesia needs to increase awareness about the conservation of the living environment for the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems, forestry and others.
In Indonesia, there is also a population called "Orang Rimba" they are people who live in wilderness areas, but they still adhere to nature without destroying it, they think their forest is their refrigerator, because whenever they are hungry they take food sources from  forests like fruits and others. And the rest, they leave it for future consumption. This shows that they are exemplary. They are not greedy and take what is necessary without messing with nature. Adapting their lives to ours will help save nature. Therefore, mass logging, sea bombing or illegal fishing must stop. If not, the biodiversity on this earth will be lost forever and our children and grandchildren will not enjoy it again.
Preserving nature, using moderately and according to regulations, keeping nature and the environment clean by as simple as throwing garbage in its place and reducing disposable materials and use an alternative choice in our lives helps reduce the loss and extinction of biodiversity on this earth. This needs to be our collective responsibility as humans for a sustainable and prosperous life.


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