The Importance of Wildlife Conservation and What You Can Do to Help Save Our Planet’s Endangered Species
We share our planet with countless wild animals, birds, insects, amphibians,and other creatures. What we do to the earth has an impact on these wild creatures and their survival, as well as on our own. Wildlife conservation is imperative if we are to become stewards of the earth, and to create a truly sustainable future for ourselves and for generations to come.
The World Conservation Union estimates that there are more than 16,000 wildlife species that are currently threatened with extinction. Only 2-4% of all the species that have ever lived still exist today. Although extinction is a natural process that has occurred on the planet for millions of years, the current rate of species loss is around 1000-10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. It is the human population that is responsible for this change. In the last 500 years, 820 species have become extinct as a result of human activity.
To break it down even more bluntly, one in four species of mammals, one in eight species of birds, one in three species of amphibians, and half of all tortoises and freshwater turtles are under threat of extinction.
So why is wildlife conservation so important? Why should we care? Aside from the emotional reasons and the fact that we are losing the beauty of our planet and destroying our fellow creatures, it is important in order to preserve biodiversity, the diversity of biological life upon our planet. The earth is a living ecosystem, a fragile system of interdependence and balance.
Our own survival as a species is dependent upon the preservation of biodiversity and is tied to the survival and vitality of every living thing on this planet. For instance, honeybees and other insects are vital in the pollination of fruit and vegetable crops which humans use for food. Over one billion people globally depend on fish and seafood for their primary source of protein. Meat consumption from a number of wild species is critical in many impoverished countries that depend upon these animals for their food and livelihoods. In addition, microscopic organisms are also tied to the process of crop growing, as well as photosynthesis and oxygen production.
Wildlife conservation is also important because humans have a vested socioeconomic interest in the continued sustainability and biodiversity of the earth’s ecosystems. The economic impact alone in the form of goods and services that are dependent upon healthy ecosystems is staggering – $33 trillion dollars per year.
The biggest threat to the earth’s flora and fauna is habitat destruction and degradation, followed by overexploitation of species through hunting, fishing, harvesting, and economic trade. These are areas that can be controlled and managed with better practices. Other reasons for the endangerment of wildlife include pollution, disease, and alien species invasions.
Global warming and climate change are also contributing factors. As ecosystems change due to increases in planetary temperatures, this results in the disappearance of the natural habitats where animals, birds, and other wild creatures live and threatens their survival.
Wildlife conservation efforts are aimed in several main areas. These include the creation of nature sanctuaries where wildlife can live protected and free from harm, and where scientific studies can be conducted to better understand the threats to various species and what solutions are needed to ensure their survival. Captive breeding and subsequent reintroduction into the wild is often necessary for species that are severely threatened.
In addition, restrictions on the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic chemicals, as well as governmental policies and legislation supportive of conservation efforts are also extremely important. For example, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 is a law which places endangered species under federal protection, and has helped to save the most threatened animals, birds, and other wild creatures from the brink of extinction. Governmental policies and legislation such as this are crucial for the long term preservation and protection of wildlife.
Ways you can help and Wildlife Conservation Organizations to support:_________________________________________________________
1. World Wildlife Fund -- www.worldwildlife.org
2. Operation Migration -- This organization helps endangered whooping cranes and Canadian geese by helping them to relearn their migratory routes. The inspiration behind the beautiful and successful movie “Fly Away Home” (available through their website)
3. Wildlife Conservation Society -- www.wcs.org
4. Explore and enjoy nature and learn more about wildlife at your local nature center, community park, or the local chapter of your favorite conservation organization. The National Audubon Society puts on a wide variety of nature programs for all ages, in addition to their conservation activities. Find out more here at audubon.org
5. Support your local zoo – Zoos are important for protecting wildlife and for conducting research to find solutions for the preservation of endangered species.
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