Conservation Movement and Its Shortcomings: How to Protect Wildlife

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Which species will be most affected? It is clear that amphibians are on the decline. ⅓ of all species of amphibians are on the threatened list. The reason for this is mainly because they are able to absorb substances through their skin. This means they are easily affected by fungi. Throughout the whole of South America, frogs are being affected by a fungus originating from the african clawed toad. During the 1930s, these toads were exported from South Africa in great numbers to hospitals in the Western world because they are used as a biological indicator of human pregnancy. It is thought that some must have escaped. And since the fungus had entered the water system, we are still seeing the effects world wide.

Extinction is arguably not the greatest threat we face in conservation. We have in passed, been able to save the last remaining individuals of a several species through tremendous efforts. But these species will never roam the range they once did. So extinction, although devastating, is a matter we can cope with. What we will not be able to cope with, is the massive decline in population.

Should we concentrate on only the most “important” species? And if so, what are the most important ones?

Choosing one species over another goes against the ethics of conservation. But decisions over which species we choose to save and those we let go are inevitable. In the end, we must invest in the projects that yield the highest returns for conservation.

But which ones are they? All plants and animals can be divided into 2 groups. The ones that keep the planet alive, and the ones that keep our imaginations alive. Sadly, it is the creatures that people dismiss, such as bugs and weeds, that predominantly make up life on earth. But if one were to augment the size of these “bugs” to human scale, one would be able to see these creatures as highly complex individuals, unique forms of life, and equals to any mammal. But which species do we really need to preserve? Fundamentally, we need every species.

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Despite the valiant efforts of environmentalists and conservationists from around the world, we are still seeing a decline in a large number of species. Why is this? Do people simply not care? The reasons for this decline could be due to a number of different factors. The first reason people think of is poaching. If poaching does become a serious problem, than it is only a matter of time before entire populations are wiped out.

But in some cases, poaching is the least the animal’s worries. In fact, it is quite the opposite that makes a population vulnerable. The wild Bactrian camel is one of the most endangered creatures on the planet, and at least 90% of people, especially Westerners, have never heard of it.

Has the conservation movement been tackling the situation the wrong way?

Firstly, in the early days, conservation very austere. People were seen as the enemy. National Parks were fenced in, and people were kept out. Even native tribes, like the Maasai, were driven away from their ancestral lands. Armies of rangers trained in combat are deployed to keep humans out. These strictly guarded parks became havens for wildlife, and only an elite few could enter them. And this military still approach worked. Without it, elephants in the wild may have gone extinct. But it had many critics all around the world. Was it wrong to displace so many communities, and reserve wildlife for the upper class? That all depends on when, and for how long. There will be periods in history, when fortress conservation is the only option. When a habit is almost destroyed and its residents on the brink of extinction, fortress conservation guarantees results. But it is not a long term solution. Where there are military borders, there will always be conflict. Fortress conservation can only last for a decade at most. Once the populations inside the park are stable again,

Secondly, the challenges we face are far greater than those we have solved. We now must deal with climate change, increased pressure on land, overpopulation.

Has the focus of conservation been to narrow?

The conservation movement never got its focus wrong. It was just too narrow. A half a century ago, when conservation first kicked of, the message was “save the whales, save the tigers…”, and the message is still the same. The conservation movement never developed, it never matured.

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