The chinchilla is a rodent that lives in colonies high in the Andes Mountains of western South America. These beautiful creatures are valued as pets and fur-animals because of their luxurious, velvet-like coats. Chinchillas range from 9 to 15 inches (23-38 cm) long plus a tail that is 3 to 6 inches (8-15 cm); they weigh from 18 to 28 ounces (510-800 g). Females are larger than males. The blue-gray to brown-gray coat is extremely soft and dense; the fur is about an inch (2.5 cm) long. The coat protects the chinchilla from the extremely cold weather of the high Andes and helps prevent water evaporation. Keen sight and acute hearing warn the chinchilla of predators.I chose this animal because its so cute and it doesn’t harm anyone or thing.
Few Chinchillas remain in the wild, but chinchillas are common in captivity. A few chinchillas were brought in to the United States in 1923. Almost all the chinchillas in captivity are their descents. Chinchillas are raised for their soft fur, which is used for clothing. Wild chinchilla populations have been threatened for centuries by human activity. The species’ original population was nearly exterminated due to poaching, hunting, habitat destruction, competition from cattle and goats, strip-mining activities, and deforestation for firewood extraction. Since the 1920s, chinchillas have been protected by legal measures, but their populations continue to decline.
Unfortunately, actions to protect chinchillas have failed. Sadly they are more likely than ever to become extinct. The IUCN suggests that the wild chinchilla population may be too small to naturally repopulate, even with protection measure in place. Illegal poaching for the fur trade also plays a role in the chinchilla’s continued decline. Additionally, foxes now hunt chinchillas more than they have in the past; this change may be natural. Its predators are Owls, foxes, cougars, and mountain lions. Many chinchilla owners are unaware of the plight of these beautiful animals. Wild chinchillas are now considered to be “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. Wild chinchilla populations have declined by an alarming 90% in the past 15 years. They face imminent danger and are likely to become extinct in the wild within a decade.
The Chinchilla speices is endangered because of poaching, hunting, habitat destruction, competition from cattle and goats, strip-mining activities, and deforestation for firewood extraction..
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 21 November 2016
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