Living organisms have developed, thrived and died out since the first flickering of life. Many species of organisms have died out as they could not adapt to the natural changes in their environment. More than 500 species of wild flora and fauna have vanished in North America alone since 1600s. At least 1000 more species are in danger of extinction. Globally, it is estimated that 16,306 species are endangered. An endangered species are organisms that are seriously at risk of becoming extinct. Below are examples of endangered animal species (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1975).
Tigers top the list of the most endangered animal species. Tiger occupies less than 7 percent of there original habitat, and recent studies indicate only 3,200 tigers are left in the jungle. Illegal poaching and continued deforestation of their natural habitat pushed tigers pollutions to near extinction. Another endangered animal species is the Arctics polar bear. Polar bears are victims of habitat loss due to climate change. Numerous polar bears are vulnerable to extinction if heating of the Arctic lingers at the current pace. Javan rhinoceros is also an endangered species. Less than 60 Javan rhinoceros still exist in the wild and are considered as the most endangered large mammal. Javan rhinoceros has been brought to the verge of extinction by illegal poaching for their prized hones used in traditional Asian medicine (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1975).
Endangered animal species affect the environment more than we realize. Animal endangerment has contributed to the loss of ecological balance and biodiversity. The animal is an important component of the ecosystem and removing them damages the ecosystem sometimes beyond restoration. Before the mass killing of the wolf population in the United States, wolves kept other animals populations from rising exponentially. When the population of the wolves reduced due to mass extermination, prey populations increased. This led to overgrazing of willow by elk than songbirds had no longer enough food or cover. Furthermore, the population of mosquitoes increased due to reduced populations of songbird that were meant to control mosquito populations (Channell & Lomolino, 2000).
Causes of Animal Species Endangerment
Firstly, several animal species in nature today are becoming endangered due to the destruction of their habitats. Earth is constantly changing, prompting an alteration and modification of the natural habitats. Natural change is usually gradual and slow process with an insignificant impact on individual species in the environment. However, when alteration happens at a fast rate, there is little or no time for species to adapt to the new environment. Habitat destruction is mainly challenging to the survival of species that are not able to adjust well to the changing environment. Humans are the main driving force behind the rapid destruction of habitats. Virtually every part of the globe has been affected by human activities. Animal habitats are destroyed by pollution, fragmentation, and climate change which are caused by human activities (Kerr & Cihlar, 2004).
Secondly, the introduction of exotic species of animals to a new region can contribute to endangerment of native animal species. Exotic animal species are usually introduced into a new location by humans either deliberately or accidentally. Alien species may severely interrupt with the biodiversity of an area or unplanned yet destructive consequences to their new environment. These exotic species can put the native species at risk of being endangered by preying on them thus reducing the local population of the native animal species. Furthermore, when alien animal species are introduced to a new ecosystem, they are frequently able to flourish and out-compete the native animal species due to lack of natural predator hence becoming invasive. For instance, in the Great Lakes region of the United States, where Zebra Mussel was unwittingly introduced. Zebra mussels are highly competitive than the local species of mussel in the Great Lake region thus endangering the native mussel species (Kerr & Cihlar, 2004).
Thirdly, overhunting or overexploitation of animal species by human beings can lead to the animals being endangered. Animal species that appearances overexploitation may become threatened due the degree in which they are being exploited. Whaling is a classic example how human beings hunted an animal species, leading to the endangerment of the entire whale species. Demand for rhino horns, elephant task, and tiger bones in some parts of Asia has promoted overhunting of this animal until they became critically endangered (Kerr & Cihlar, 2004).
Today there are many ways to help save endangered animal species. Many states in the world have passed laws, regulations, and policies to protect endangered animals species. For instance, in the United States, the Endangered Act of !973 protects endangered flora and fauna from hunting and destruction of their habitats. Also, many endangered animal species are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered species of Wild Flora and Fauna that prohibits trade of furs and live animals of threatened species (Channell & Lomolino, 2000).
Some endangered animal species live in a zoo, protected animal sanctuaries, and research centers. Scientists in these places try to help them to repopulate and start new families with the hope of being returned to the wild. Some governments, private institutions, and NGOs are educating people on the importance of endangered animal species. This promotes people's awareness of the problem and encouraging them to act voluntarily (Channell & Lomolino, 2000).
Channell, R., & Lomolino, M. V. (2000). Dynamic biogeography and conservation of endangered species. Nature, 403(6765), 84-86.
Kerr, J. T., & Cihlar, J. (2004). Patterns and causes of species endangerment in Canada. Ecological Applications, 14(3), 743-753.
US Fish and Wildlife Service. (1975). Endangered and threatened wildlife. Federal register, 40, 137.
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