The importance of wildlife conservation is greatly underrated nowadays. The issue of wildlife conservation is not only about saving animals in peril, but also about an ecosystem damaged beyond repair. It is true that Earth goes through different climate phases. They directly affect the livelihood of different creatures. However, that’s not the only relevant factor.
The extent of the damage done to wildlife
Humans are behind one of the greatest extinction events on Earth. That extinction event is happening right now, right under our noses. The current speculated rate of extinction sits at around 100-1000% times higher than normal. Scientists can’t come up with a concrete number, because there are many unknown species. They also can’t track down every species efficiently. The ecosystem may be healing in unexpected ways. It could also be the case that it is doing worse than expected.
According to WWF’s (World Wildlife Fund) Living Planet Report of 2018, there’s been a 60% decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians in just over 40 years. When people think of “wildlife conservation”, they mostly think about well-known species like tigers, rhinos, whales or tortoises. In reality, many lesser known species of mammals have already gone extinct. There’s no way to get them back. People usually ignore the disappearance of reptiles and amphibians. For example, frogs are undergoing mass extinction caused by a new type of fungus. This fungus is called chytridiomycosis. It has spread to over 60 countries already. Other types of virulent diseases are also contributing to this mass die-off.
The efforts made to help and the encountered difficulties
So is there anything humans can do to help with wildlife conservation? The obvious answer is slowing down climate change and the effects of pollution on the environment. But that might not be enough. There needs to be focused effort in certain areas. Organisations like the WWF gather information about different extinction factors and events. WWF also focuses on wildlife recovery. For example, the numbers of black rhinos in South Africa are going up thanks to the efforts of WWF in partnership with others (volunteers, other organisations). It is the same for black bucks in the Himalayas.
Another way to help is to stop wildlife crime. There must be tighter ivory commerce restrictions. People seek ivory in many Asian countries, like China. People believe it has certain attributes that can help with illness. WWF has teamed up with e-commerce and social media companies to help achieve better wildlife policies for online trade. Estimates show that each year poachers slaughter close to 20,000 elephants. Poachers also capture and breed other “exotic” animals for their parts. However, they usually just hunt them down.
Exotic pet ownership and the consequences of it
Affluent people that own pets are also problematic. It is a way to show status. Some of them truly believe they are helping the animal by giving it a home. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. It causes massive stress on the animal. It’s inevitable that the animal will snap at one point. One such case is the one involving Charla Nash and the pet chimpanzee of her friend, Sandra Herold. The chimpanzee’s name was Travis. Nash ended up severely mauled by Travis.
Perhaps people should let wild animals do their thing in the wilderness. People should get involved only if there is a case of an abandoned wild animal that can’t be reintroduced to its local environment. There are many sanctuaries dedicated to this cause. For example, the well-known Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary hosts many education programs aimed at the general public. They also talk about the importance of wildlife conservation. They have a multitude of species that thrive in the park.
As such, there are many factors involved in wildlife mass extinction. It is important to raise awareness about the topic. It’s also important to educate people about the importance of wildlife conservation and the damage on ecosystems. We will keep losing valuable species over the years if this doesn’t slow down. Many species of cultural and social importance have already gone extinct. One famous example is the Dodo. It’s time we pick up the pace. We must do more about it!