In the last 250 years, 571 species have been confirmed extinct. Currently 27% of all assessed species are threatened with extinction, which means more than 31,000 in numbers! Some of the many reasons why these species may be at risk are habitat loss, poaching, climate change, loss of generic variation and invasive species.
Why are these species threatened with extinction?
One of the main causes why these species are on the brink of extinction is habitat loss. Human activities such as agriculture and industrial development contribute a lot to this. The most harmful industries to wildlife are the most common ones like construction, lumber, petroleum, livestock and plant agriculture. When developing an industry, companies are ‘clearing’ pieces of land like the Amazon Rainforest of South America. By doing that, they are eliminating all vegetation which is the home of hundreds or even thousands of animal species.
Poaching is another reason why these beautiful species are at risk. Millions of animals of thousands of species worldwide are captured or killed for reasons like selling them locally or trading them worldwide as exotic pets. On top of that, these animals are also sold as food, decor, jewelry or traditional medicine. Poaching is a growing threat especially to elephants, rhinos, as well as to smaller animals like lizards and monkeys.
Effects of climate change
Climate change can impact the lives of hundreds or thousands of animal species. From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles on the coast of Africa, and other magnificent species like giraffes, sharks and the great apes of Southeast Asia are at great risk from the changing climate. Sea levels are rising and oceans are becoming warmer. And this causes the loss of habitat.
One of the main things which causes global warming is carbon pollution. The biggest carbon emitting industry is transportation. By reducing how much we travel and choosing to walk instead of driving to our destination, we can make a massive impact on saving these species.
Extinction can also happen naturally
But don’t forget, extinction can happen naturally, without the involvement of humans, like it happened with dinosaurs. Because of the impact of an asteroid, debris was forced into the atmosphere, which reduced the temperature and the amount of light hitting the Earth. Dinosaurs were unable to adapt to the quick climate change so they became endangered, then extinct.
How we can help?
However, that doesn’t mean that we should watch how these animals are becoming more and more endangered and then are slowly disappearing. We can make a massive change if we raise awareness and educate, not only others, but ourselves as well. There are many things we can do to save these animals, like researching the origin of the products we buy, growing native plants, buying from local small businesses or slowing down when driving. Any of these small steps can make a big difference.