While it’s true that more and more species, previously thought to be extinct are appearing, even more are disappearing. The Wooly Mammoth, the Quagga, the Pyrenean Ibex, the Yunnan Box Turtle and the Martha Bird have all disappeared while new species like the Terror Skink, the New Holland Mouse, the Mountain Pygmy Opossum and the Frilled Shark have all made shocking comebacks. Unfortunately, extinction is usually permanent and many more than 44,000 species are in danger of becoming permanently extinct if something isn’t done.
Not only animal species, but plants, trees, reptiles, birds and more are in danger of dying out according to The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). On their, “Red list” are more than 44,838 species that are threatened with 16,928 of these in danger of extinction.
Over-hunting and loss of habitat are endangering the Siberian Tiger; only around twenty remain in China today.
Insecticides, pesticides and other agricultural and industrial chemicals are endangering species like the Greater Horseshoe Bat. Chemicals have destroyed the insects that these bats feed on and while the remaining population of about 5,000 remains, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep this population’s numbers stable.
Pollution and over-fishing affect many while others are affected by climate change. Still more are victims of urban sprawl and humankind’s desire to conquer the wilds, as well as one another. The more the human animal builds, the greater the destruction of many natural habitats where these endangered species live, one of them being indigenous peoples in areas like the rainforests.
The reversal of the flow of many lakes, rivers and streams has caused many species, including indigenous peoples living there, to die off from a lack of food sources.
Animals find food like fish and when the flow of the water is reversed to build an observatory, dam or other structure, the animals starve. They can’t find food where they did before and the animals are often a main food source for many indigenous peoples who starve without their food source.
Reversing water flows also opens the way for many invasive species that do more harm than good. More than 100 years back, the city of Chicago completed years of work that reversed the river’s flow to keep untreated sewage from flowing into Lake Michigan, source of the city’s drinking water. It diverted a significant amount of water from the lake and created a path for invasive species like Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes ecosystem from the Mississippi River.
Asian Carp feed on tiny animals and plants that are vital to the food chain. Asian Carp in large numbers destroy the plankton that feed other species of fish. With nothing for them to eat, the Asian Carp could be the last surviving species in those waters.
BP’s 2010 oil spill, like others before, has endangered many species in the Atlantic ocean and surrounding wetlands. It may take fifty or more years for this area to begin to recover. With oily sludge poisoning the beaches, marshes and even privately owned properties. The carcinogenic and economic effects are still being observed by those living in the area.
Animals that survive these toxic oil spills may be used in medicines or for food by people and those carcinogens are passed onto humans and animals that ingest them.
While BP has destroyed many species in the Atlantic, the meltdown of Japan’s nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daichi, has leaked lethal levels of radiation into the waters around Asia and radioactive tuna are now making their way to the US waters. They’ll be eaten by humans, increasing the risk of many diseases including cancer. It is clear that humans play the biggest part in the extinction of millions of species.
Ben Collen of the Zoological Society of London says:
"Within our lifetime, hundreds of species of birds, mammals and amphibians could be lost as a result of human actions," he said. "We must set clear goals to reverse these trends and ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out the small things provide us with great benefits such as pollination, nutrient cycling, and climate regulation."
The population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles in the Mediterranean and Black seas and the Atlantic ocean has dwindled due to being over-hunted, tourism and the over-use of fishing nets. The turtles often become trapped in fishing nets and drown; the beaches where they lay their eggs are no longer available because of the greater numbers of tourists frequenting beaches and the sands are heating up more thanks to global warming and temperature is a contributing factor that determines the sex of the turtles. They are now in danger of having more females than males of their species.
As forests are destroyed, the beautiful Mandarin Duck is in increasing danger, while the Mountain Gorillas are also losing their forest habitats.
The Lion-Tailed Macaque is being poached to near extinction, while the Golden Lion Tamarin is being captured and sold illegally as pets. The Tamarin has declined to about two hundred and fifty, but recent efforts have managed to increase these numbers to about one thousand.
The California Condor has dwindled thanks to nineteenth century gold-diggers killing many of them to collect their feathers.
Over-hunting has killed off many Hooded Seals and in 1930-1931, more than 30,000 blue whales were killed off by Antarctic whalers for their baleen and blubber. The list doesn’t seem to end.
Many species of wolves are still being killed off today. Humans see them as predators and a problem, but they play a vital role in forestation. The Red Wolf has been nearly hunted to extinction while more than 7,500 Grey Wolves in the US have been slaughtered in the past five years. In Alaska, Idaho and Montana, aerial gunning has become a popular way to eliminate the species. Helicopters fly over terrified packs and machine-gun them down, leaving a trail of bloody carnage across the land.
Wolves are vital to the ecosystem and forestation because they eat small animals like beaver, squirrel and other small animals and rodents that destroy various species of trees.
When wolves were removed from Yellowstone, the population of various trees like Birches dwindled and once they were re-introduced, the trees were seen growing once again.
According to Conservation.org, every twenty minutes, animals become extinct! What a disgrace, to know that humans, their greed, actions and inventions, are responsible for the elimination of more lives than it can birth. When will people wake up and see what their own species has done? Perhaps when it’s too late and there are only a handful of humans left on the toxic planet? Perhaps not, but it doesn’t look good for those 44,000 endangered species.