Our animals are some of the most important beings on Earth, and some of us take them for granted. Conservation is all about preserving natural habitats, preventing species from extinction, and coexisting in harmony with all animals. Animal trafficking is one of the greatest threats to our animals.
It is a senseless, greedy act that sees humans selling animals for profit, ripping them from their homes, and putting them on the market. We want to stop that. Today we are going to be looking at the importance of wildlife conservation. Before we get started, we want to extend a warm welcome to Zoohackathon.com readers.
We have recently acquired the website and are so happy to be joining forces and creating a larger database of information for those who want to help protect animals.
What Is Wildlife Conservation?
Wildlife conservation is the act of protecting animal species and their habitats. Animals have a vital role in the world’s ecosystems, ensuring balance and stability in nature. However, some humans seem to forget this fact. The human population has grown incredibly over the past two centuries, with no sign of slowing down.
Natural resources are being consumed more quickly because of it, and more and more habitats are being destroyed. This is due to land development, food resources, or other human gains. Other risks to habitats are climate change, pollution, poaching, and hunting. Global warming is affecting thousands of animals’ habitats.
Bushfires are threatening to put Kangaroos on the endangered list while melting ice caps are quickly diminishing comfortable habitats for Polar Bears. Wildlife conservation is the practice of preventing these issues from damaging any more of the world’s natural habitats. So much has been taken already, and the more that is depleted, the quicker animals will become extinct.
Of course, the most important reason for animal conservation is to protect wildlife. Animals and plants are under constant threat, and we need to put a stop to it as soon as possible. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned us that the animal population has decreased by almost 70% in just 50 years.
Habitats, and therefore ecosystems, all over the world are being eradicated quicker than animals can find another home. Many animals cannot survive outside of their natural habitat, and climate change and human intervention are forcing them out of it. Without serious action, we could be seeing many more species going extinct in the next few years. These animals will never be seen again.
Wildlife is incredibly important to the world as we know it – perhaps more important than any of us realize. Extinction leads to an unbalance in nature, which can lead to many issues in the future.
Take this example: If a carnivore (eg. Lion, Wolf, Polar Bear) dies, there will be an increased number of herbivores, since there is no carnivore around to consume the herbivores. Herbivores, such as Koalas, eat a great deal of vegetation, so this can lead to a decrease in forest vegetation.
The lack of vegetation can trigger other species to leave the forest and find food sources elsewhere, such as in agricultural areas. This can lead to a whole lot more issues arising in the future. As you can see, nature needs its balance to ensure things don’t fall apart. This unbalance can interfere with human issues, too, so wildlife conservation is just as important for us as it is for animals.
Protecting Our Earth
Climate change has been a worrying issue for decades now, and we’re well aware of how it can destroy our planet. There are plenty of causes of climate change, such as the removal of natural environments. Deforestation is one of the largest causes of global warming, with the biggest hits being in the Amazon, Africa, Indonesia, and Canada. However, it is happening all over the world.
We’re cutting forests down too quickly to compare to the rate at which we are replanting them. This is an issue for both our animals and our oxygen levels. Trees help our world more than you might think. They store amazing amounts of carbon and convert it into oxygen that we breathe. Trees can also regulate the weather systems, prevent flood risks, and ensure a balance of ecosystems.
Forests are some of the most prevalent habitats, but there are plenty of animals living elsewhere. Other habitats include rivers, coasts, grasslands, and more. These are not exempt from the dangers of climate change, either.
Rivers are being dried up, grasslands are withering and being used for land development, and coasts are crumbling. If we want to conserve our wildlife, we must also protect our planet. They both rely on one another, and humans rely on them both.
Protecting Our Health
From a more selfish standpoint, protecting our planet and animals is also vital for our health. The health of animals corresponds much closer to the health of humans than you might think, in terms of medicine, disease, and general well-being. Humans and animals naturally transmit diseases from one another, and these are called zoonoses.
A prevalent example that comes to mind is Covid-19. As we have seen, these diseases can have catastrophic effects on our health and economy. These diseases are most often transmitted through the commercialization of animals taken from the wild. The commercialization of animals isn’t as cut and dry as you might think.
While you might not find bats or other wild animals being sold at the local market, destroying habitats is a form of commercialization. It forces animals to leave their homes and migrate elsewhere, perhaps closer to humans. This makes the spreading of diseases much easier. A well-known example of this was Avian Influenza.
The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has a species directory that breaks animals up into five categories – critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened, and least concern.
This list is constantly changing, with poaching and climate change altering the categories of many species. Some wildlife conservation efforts have also altered the list – for the better. Let’s take a look at these five categories.
Critically endangered species are at high risk of being wiped off of the planet, never to be seen again. This might be due to habitat loss, an unbalance in the ecosystem, or illegal poaching and hunting. A few examples of animals that are critically endangered are the Black Rhino, African Forest Elephant, and the Amur Leopard.
Endangered animals are those that are not in low-enough numbers to be critically threatened, but they are well on their way to extinction if something is not done quickly.
The list of endangered animals is one that surprises and upsets many people, as it is almost impossible to imagine the earth without them cohabiting with it. Here are a few examples of the animals that are on the endangered list:
- Sea Turtles
- Asian Elephants
- Sea Lions
- Galápagos Penguin
- Blue Whales
These animals are not endangered but are vulnerable to moving up the list if something is not done about the wrecking of their habitats. Examples of vulnerable animals include the Giant Panda, the Great White Shark, and the Polar Bear.
These animals are not vulnerable to being endangered, but they are also a cause for concern. It is incredibly difficult to get animals off of the Vulnerable or Endangered lists, so the near-threatened category ensures that we know the dangers of leaving these animals without intervention. Examples of these animals are White Rhinos, Jaguars, and Yellowfin Tuna.
Finally, the animals on the least concern list are those that are not currently at risk of being threatened. While this is good news, we cannot get complacent about these animals.
Things can change very quickly, and as we have mentioned, even a minor disruption to the ecosystem can throw everything into chaos. Animals on the least concern list include Arctic Wolves, Tree Kangaroos, Brown Bears, and Narwhals.
Example Of Wildlife Conservation Success – The Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle has been a beacon of hope for many in our nation, with it being one of the symbols to encompass America’s history and pride. But it came to the brink of extinction in the 1960s when its prey was also going extinct and an egg-thinning pesticide almost wiped Bald Eagles from existence.
It wasn’t until 1962 that Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, a conservation science book, proved the detrimental effects of DDT on birds and their eggs. After plenty of societal pressure, the EPA was forced to ban the use of DDT in 1972. The Bald Eagle, which was put on the endangered species list in 1967 and had vanished from 48 states, gained protection from both hunting and habitat destruction.
These conservation efforts – the banning of DDT, hunting, and more – as well as captive breeding and reintroduction plans, saw a rise in the numbers of this species. By 2007, the Bald Eagle was declared to be recovered and officially taken off of the endangered species list.
Our planet might be ours, but it also belongs to the wildlife that surrounds us. It is simply incorrect to assume that humans are more important than animals or plants, as we all work in our natural ecosystems to keep the world working. Animals are beautiful, majestic creatures that we cannot take for granted.
If we continue the way we’re going, countless animals will be wiped off of the planet forever, never to be seen again. Time will only tell the devastating impact that will have. So, let’s continue to help conserve the planet and its wildlife, in whatever way we can.
No matter what you can contribute – whether that’s planting trees to reduce your plastic usage, you will be making a difference. Spreading awareness is also incredibly important, and we’re running out of time.