As children pass through the various stages of education, science classes naturally progress from elementary topics to more complex ones. For many people, it is easy to think back to grade school and even middle school times, when a considerable portion of science classes were focused on the biodiversity of the Earth, and unfortunately how rapidly that diversity is depleting. It has undoubtedly made many children wonder more about why exactly animal habitats were being dismissed so readily, and if any individuals or organizations were taking action on it. As was learned later on, deforestation, alongside other lightning-fast actions taken by humans, means the future of endangered species is not promising without massive change.
Deforestation has been the most critical of the numerous factors that play into the endangerment of species. Businesses that are looking to create commercial or residential property, oil and mining companies that are interested in tapping into new reserves, trees being used for paper production, CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), and illegal logging are five of the more common reasons that deforestation presses forward.
It turns out that the laws, or lack thereof, in certain countries regarding the harvesting or preservation of timber, often causes illegal logging. Historically, it has been nearly impossible to discern what is legal timber and what is not, but laws in the U.S., Europe and Australia are being strengthened or composed to prevent future illegal timber.
In Brazil, deforestation rates during 2012 to 2013 shot up a startling 28 percent, due in large part to the 2012 repealing of the country’s 1965 Forest Code. Illegal loggers are now only required to reinstate 50 percent of their previously destroyed land, a 30 percent drop from the original level. Brazil’s Amazon forest has long been esteemed as one of the world’s most biologically rich forests.
Unfortunately, animals that inhabit the Amazon are not the only critters that are in trouble. It’s beyond argument that without massive change, the future of these endangered species will not look promising. Lemurs are suffering heavily from illegal logging over in Madagascar, where they are considered the “most threatened mammal group on Earth,” according to Science journal. Pandas are also still included on the endangered species list, with fewer than 1,600 of them last recorded throughout the entire world.
The west African lion, polar bear, lesser prairie chicken, Galapagos penguin, pygmy elephant, humpback whale and snow leopard are seven other animals that could be facing their last days on Earth. Animal lovers and nature enthusiasts alike have no reason to fear, however, because there are a number of organizations that work tirelessly to prevent the loss of animals across the globe.
Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN), EcoHealth Alliance, Earthjustice and the World Wildlife Fund are four non-profits that have consistently received high ratings through Charity Navigator, and constantly work on expanding the reach of their impact. WCN is particularly tenacious, working to save endangered species throughout the world in 24 countries.
Plymouth University from the UK and Arizona State University (ASU) from the U.S. are teaming up to sway biologists’ traditional methods of discovering and re-discovering species. Ben Minteer from ASU mentions that due to modern technology, there is no longer a need to manually collect specimens from the field for further documentation and research.
Most endangered species are already living in secluded or highly concentrated areas, and so for researchers to go out of their way to remove a full animal from its habitat is often counter-effective to the species’ preservation. DNA samples, audio recordings and high-resolution photography are three of the more popular and readily available ways to conduct essentially harmless research.
It is evident that researchers, businesspeople and citizens that authentically care are taking every action at their disposal to widen opportunities for animal preservation. The future of endangered species is not promising without massive change. As long as biologists remain conscious in the efforts of their studies, and we as individuals pay attention to the shifting stage of the world’s events, our beloved endangered species may have a future after all.
Opinion by Brad Johnson