Our earth is the only planet where life exists, and we can witness all kinds of flora and fauna existing together with humans. A plethora of animal species like vertebrates, invertebrates, trees, flowers, grasses, grains, and other organisms constitute our fauna. For a stable ecosystem, all these components must work together and give support to each other. But due to increasing human activities like urbanization, deforestation, pollution, and sprawling, the animals have lost their habitat. Many animals have become extinct, and many are on the verge of extinction. A report by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment states that more than 30% of the mammals, amphibians, and bird species are threatened with extinction due to human activities.
Causes of extinction of species
Around 99 percent of species that ever lived on the planet have become extinct. The significant reasons for extinction include-
- Overgrazing and over-harvesting of trees, fishes, and other organisms are the main reasons of danger to their survival and the other species that are dependent on them.
- Climate change is also one of the critical reasons for extinction. The rising temperatures make some species’ survival difficult, and it poses a threat to their survival.
- Pollution is yet another reason for danger to wildlife. The chemicals and unwanted air, heat, and noise cause harm to the species.
- The ever increasing population and migration have led to the loss of biodiversity to a great extent.
Need for conserving biodiversity or species from getting extinct
Scientists claim that five mass extinctions have taken place since the inception. The main reasons were the climatic and geological changes. The scientists are now skeptical and believe that the sixth mass extinction is about to occur. The primary reason for this extinction is due to human activities. Statistics show that the present rate of extinction is between 100 and 100,000 species per year. The statistics are quite alarming and require immediate action to prevent the further extinction of the species.
Conservation schemes paid off.
With the extent to which the species are getting extinct, many conservative schemes and strategies have been undertaken both at the government and individual levels. And these conservation programs have worked, and we have been able to recover nine such wildlife species which had gone almost extinct. The wildlife conservation scientists have put forward a list of nine wildlife species in their global conversation program that are recovering and brought back from the brink. Let’s have a look at the list below-
- Tigers in western Thailand- The Panthera Tigris of Thailand’s Huai Kha Khaeng (HKK) sanctuary have been rescued and has increased to more than 60 percent, which had once decreased to 44 percent in 2010. The tigers dispersing from the sanctuary have provided a base for the recovery of other populations across the entire Western Forest Complex of Thailand. The sanctuary has been working to reduce poaching for years, and their hard work paid off with the Panthera species coming back from extinction again.
- Greater adjutant storks- one of the rarest storks, the greater adjutant was destroyed and proved disastrous for these species because of the destruction of the flooded forest habitat. But the program was created by the Cambodia Ministry of Environment and WCS in which the local people were paid to safeguard the nests. These storks few from just 30 to around 200 pairs, which is about 50 percent of the adjutants’ global population. The community people protected the flooded forests, and since then, the storks have been on the rise.
- American Bison- the iconic American Bison, which was almost extinct, was restored by the conversationalists by the early 20th century. William Hornaday started the campaign along with some politicians, conversationalists, and ranchers to form new herds of bison. The wildlife conservation scientists in partnership with tribals, government, and private ranching partners to increase the number of wild bison in North America. It also conducts a breeding program to establish a herd of pure Bison to provide animals for restoration programs in the American West.
- Kihansi spray toads- the kihansi apart toad, which was declared extinct by the IUCN in 2009, is the first amphibian to be restored to the wild after being extinct. These are the Tanzanian natives and are found nowhere else but were located when a hydroelectric dam was built, which dramatically altered the misted environment that the toads require. But the Bronx zoo in Tanzania collected and bred some toads before it was declared extinct. For this, an environment conducive to the toads was created, which had the artificial misting system. With this system, the Bronx zoo has sent approximately 8000 toads to Tanzania, and 1000 new born Kihansi toads in the zoo were sent to Tanzania in 2016.
- The humpback whale- The humpback whale, which was protected under the UN endangered species act, made a comeback when the International Whaling Commission banned hunting the humpback whales in 1982. In 2016, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration informed the press that nine out of fourteen clusters of whales no longer need protection under the UN endangered species act as they are doing well.
- Bernie’s star tortoise- the Myanmar Burmese star tortoise, was considered extinct in the 1990s. The WCS took the case and initiated the program for breeding in partnership with the turtle survival alliance and the Myanmar government. The program started with 175 individuals and created three assurance colonies at wildlife sanctuaries. Today, the program has successfully restored 14000 wild and captive animals, and around 750 have been released into the wild areas of sanctuaries.
- Maleos in Sulawesi- Indonesia’s Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park has been restoring and recovering the endangered and endemic Maleos by nesting ground management and local communities’ support. They have now been able to recover 15000 maleo chicks and have set them free into the wild.
- Jaguars range-wide- jaguar (Panthera onca), one of the largest cat animals in America. This species has also been threatened with extinction because of forest loss for agricultural and developmental purposes. The jaguar is now found only in the extreme northern limits of Argentina in its southern range. It has become extinct in Central America. But efforts have been taken for years, and after 40 years of the conservation program, the jaguar population has become stable again and is continually improving. A growth rate of around 7.8 percent has been witnessed across the WCS sites. Jaguars are showing a recovery in the northern US and will soon return to the southern US.
- Guatemala’s Macaws- the macaws in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve, have been pushed into extinction, with only around 250 left in reserve. But after 15 years of conservation efforts, the birds are coming back. The conservation efforts include community-led conservation, enforcement monitoring, farming, and field science. All these efforts have shown positive outcomes and have shown the highest fledging rate this year.
No doubt, the conservation efforts being taken by the agencies and the community have brought the species from the brink of extinction. We as individuals need to understand the importance of biodiversity in our lives and work towards conserving our flora and fauna to preserve these beautiful creatures for our future generations and maintain a balance of the ecosystem. Such conservation programs can help preserve more such species that are on the verge of extinction or are under the category of being endangered.