There are currently only 30 individual Amur leopards left in the world, the hawksbill turtle has been deemed “critically endangered”, the black-footed ferret who was once thought to be globally extinct has only a population of 1000, the black rhino was said to be “doomed to disappear from the face of the earth” in 1961, and the Saola deer has an estimated population of a few hundred at a maximum, or possibly only a few dozen at a minimum. There are many more animals who are endangered, some who are even worse off than the ones I mentioned. If we continue to abuse our power and ignore the plight of these endangered species, one day even common animals like cows or frogs will be hard to come by.
These beautiful creatures are extremely important to our eco-system and food-chain and need desperately to be preserved. If we continue to refuse to acknowledge this and disregard the issue intentionally, our ecosystems will begin to collapse and we will no longer have the variety we currently do of food, medicine, animals and thousands of products will not be available to us because so many companies use materials that contain animal by-products. Also, I will give you more insight on what it means to be endangered as well as give some examples of animals who are.
Firstly, we ask the question “How does the loss of animal species impact ecosystems?” There are several factors that play a role in this. All animal and plant life is part of a complex ecosystem that includes our lands and waters. Remove one or more of these parts and you damage the entire environment, sometimes beyond restoration. These ecosystems provide clean water, breathable air, fertile soils, climate control, food, medicine, energy, building materials, transportation, as well as recreational and spiritual uses. An example of an ecosystem that is suffering from a loss of biodiversity is the ocean ecosystem. It is predicted that by 2050, all species of wild seafood that are currently being fished could be collapsed, which is defined as 90% depleted.
If these species collapse it would not only affect humans but other ocean species that depend on these fish as a food source. Ecological collapses like this are very serious and often cannot be fixed once destroyed without enormous amounts of effort, or not at all. Destructive human activities have increased the rate of species extinction for 100 to 1000 times the natural rate studies done by the WWF show. According to the US fish and wildlife service, 415 species in the United States are endangered at the moment and 164 are threatened. As well, they tallied that 541 species in other countries are endangered and 50 are immediately threatened. These numbers are much too high. This loss of species will affect our ecosystem’s stability and put our entire way of life off balance, as the animals run out of resources, so will we.
Moreover, this lack of biodiversity affects many aspects of our own lives, the four most affected areas are our food sources, our medicine supply, our diversity in animal species and the variety of available products. The effect on our food source is obvious. No more cows, no more BigMacs. More so than that though, even our fruits and vegetables are being affected, there are many things needed to have healthy crops, one thing is good soil for example. Worms are needed to enrich the soil and add essential nutrients to it that help plants grow. Worms are part of an intricate food-chain that is connected to humans. Even those junk foods that seem to have nothing natural in them actually do. Nearly everything at some point was a plant or an animal, it’s a cycle. Our medicines are also made from plants, especially in certain cultures. A few medicines created from plants are the bark of a white willow, which contains acetyl salicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin.
It has been used for pain relief for 2,000 years. Galantamine hydrobromide, a compound derived from daffodil bulbs, is being used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Digitalis has been used since the 16th century to treat heart disease and its derivatives are still used in modern medicine, this comes from foxglove. For the third point, even farm animal diversity is declining as accelerating species loss threatens humanity. “The accelerating disappearance of Earth’s species of both wild and domesticated plants and animals constitutes a fundamental threat to the well-being and even the survival of humankind”, warns the founding Chair of a new global organization created to narrow the gulf between leading international biodiversity scientists and national policy-makers.
Dr. Zakri, a national of Malaysia who co-chaired 2005’s landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and serves also as science advisor to his country’s prime minister, cited fast-growing evidence that “we are hurtling towards irreversible environmental tipping points that, once passed, would reduce the ability of ecosystems to provide essential goods and services to humankind.” Some scientists have termed this the “sixth great extinction episode” in Earth’s history, according to Dr. Zakri, noting that the loss of biodiversity is happening faster and everywhere, even among farm animals.
Lastly, do you think your home is free of items that have been tested on animals and contain animal by-products? You would be surprised how many companies make their merchandise like this, using these harsh techniques. A few items I’ve found to use these techniques are Jell-O, Windex, Trojan condoms, post-it notes, mars candy bars, Band-Aids, Kleenex, Iams pet food and Vaseline. These animals can’t do a thing to better their situation. They are becoming more and more endangered, threatened and vulnerable each day, do you know what that means?
To be endangered means to be threatened with a danger or by extinction. To threaten means to utter a threat against, to be a menace or source of danger to, to offer a punishment to by way of a threat, to give an ominous indication of, or indicate impending evil or mischief. Endanger is also a synonym of threaten. Lastly, the definition of vulnerable is; capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon, open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etcetera, open to assault; difficult to defend, or exposed to disease, disaster, or attack.
We have placed hundreds of thousands of animals in a position where they are any one of those three things or worse, extinct. Meaning no longer in existence; that has ended or died out. Like the thylacine, the pig-footed bandicoot, the Steller’s sea cow, the tule shrew, the Malagasy hippopotamus, the Portuguese ibex, the Hokkaido wolf, the Syrian wild ass, as well as multitudes more. We, in a large part, are responsible for these disappearances, for the deaths of the innocent.
We invade this pristine world, claiming it as our own simply by our presence. We slaughter innocent animals for their hides and their flesh. We devastate the landscape and gouge out the earth to build our monuments to vanity. Yet, still, we have the audacity to wake up in the morning and complain about it all. Humans are a vain and horrendous species when it comes down to it, and some days, I’m ashamed to be a part of it. It’s time to clean up the mess we’ve made, time to stop ignoring everything, and time to start preserving the earth and its inhabitants, all of them, the way it should’ve been since the beginning.
Courtney from Study Moose
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