The Web of Life – Biodiversity

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Irreplaceable Afromontane forests – where the threatened subspecies of samango monkey, Cercopithecus mitis labiatus, resides – are found on moist southern slopes from the Cape to Limpopo. The forests are fragmented and vulnerable due to increased demands for forest resources, invaders and degradation. An important aspect of our ToPS (Threatened or Protected Species) samango monkey research is to gain more understanding of the relationship between the forest and samango monkey populations.

Those of us in Africa are familiar with an old principle we call Ubuntu. The essence of this principle reminds us that we’re all interconnected.

Igor Morski

Simply put, Ubuntu means: I am because you are.

I was recently reminded of the web of life when coming across the copious amount of forest spider webs while the elusive samango monkeys called in the distance.

If one strand is broken, the whole web is broken.

I thought how this principle needs to be extended to include the environment as it doesn’t apply solely to human society but is integral to the health of our planet we all rely on. Everything that humans rely on for survival is taken from the earth. We exist as dependents on our planet, making the health of that environment crucial to our long-term healthy survival.


Biodiversity is considered to be a measure of the health of all biological systems. It is the variation of taxonomic life forms that defines the health of the environment. Every species plays a role in contributing to a healthy environment – the web of life, including humans.

Over time, the variation has been dangerously reduced by one species – humans. Most of the species extinctions from 1000 AD to 2000 AD are due to human activities, in particular, plant and animal habitats.

Factors contributing to loss of biodiversity are overpopulation, deforestation, pollution and global warming.


How biodiversity directly affects us

Enough biodiversity is needed to support the chains that humans rely on:

  • Food: the variety of natural and organic plants found around the world feed animals and humans alike.
  • Beverages: the diversity of natural materials provide an abundance of ingredients for beverages.
  • Most medicines are derived from natural ingredients, most specifically plants. Many antibiotics are also derived from living micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi.
  • Building materials. Rubber, oil, certain types of fibres, dyes and adhesives all come from natural origins.

Posted by Karin Saks

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