The Concerns Over the Rapid Loss of Endangered Species
The rapid loss of species today is estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. Are we doing enough to protect endangered species? I believe that we are not.
According to an article from Science Advances, a recent study shows that the extinction rate has increased a hundredfold over the last century. 99% of the species currently threatened are at risk of extinction because of humans. Habitat destruction, poaching and global warming are the main culprits. If we are causing this decrease, shouldn’t we do something to stop it?
The medicinal value of species, particularly plants, will be lost if it becomes extinct. Some plant species have the ability to cure life threatening diseases, for example, scientists are looking at naturally derived compounds for cancer drugs. This is because they have less toxic side effects than current treatments. This could lead to the development of new medicines. However, if the plants which are being looked into for their anticancer properties become extinct, we will never know the effect this could have on humans.
Animal and plant extinction can majorly change an ecosystem. Interaction with other organisms and their environment is essential for survival. This means that as one species becomes extinct, the lives of all other organisms that it interacts with will be jeopardised. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, one lost plant species can lead to the loss of 30 other insects, plants and other animal species found in the higher levels of the food chain. In the long run, this could have a dangerous effect on humans if we do not do something to stop it. Over the last 40 years the population of wild vertebrates has halved. These animals had previously adapted to survive in the conditions which they live, now they are suffering habitat loss, poaching and starvation. There is nothing they can do to stop the suffering we are causing them, so we should do more to protect them from it. About half of the world’s forests have been destroyed. They are being removed ten times faster than it is possible to grow them. Tropical forests are being cleared of 17 million hectares per year. Considering that at least half of the earth’s species live in these areas this is a significant loss.
We have to do something to stop the annual decline of wildlife populations. At the moment the yearly decline is 2%. This means that if the rate doesn’t change wildlife populations will drop by 67% by 2020. This could have a major effect on the world because these species impact us more than we realise. Biodiversity is the variety of plant and animal life in the world or a particular habitat. According to Scientific American, research published in Nature has shown that healthy biodiversity is essential to human health. This is because as species become extinct, infectious diseases rise throughout the animal kingdom, including in humans. This means that extinctions directly affect our chances of survival.
Wild species of plants can improve crops. Scientists take genes from the DNA of plants which include pest, disease or drought resistance and salt tolerance. These assets can work in opposition to climate change. This makes it clear that that some plant species can help the human population in ways which most people don’t know.
More should be done to stop wild animal poaching. In South Africa, the number of rhinos poached in 2007 was 13. That rose to 1,100 in 2015. Populations of land animals have fallen by 38%. However, the decline was recorded to be around half of that in protected areas. This highlights that nature preserves are an effective way to protect wildlife.
In conclusion, we should do more to protect endangered species. This is because both plants and animals can affect us in ways we don’t realise, and most of their suffering is caused by us. The rapid decrease in populations could be easily slowed down if we were made more aware of how to save the species that are struggling to do so without our help.
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