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Here today, gone tomorrow: Endangered species

Melody Hansford

Our world's precious wild lives hang in the balance! Poaching, deforestation, and human impact threaten animals like African elephants, pangolins, and Bengal tigers. Discover their vital roles in our ecosystems and the urgent need for action.

The extinction of a myriad of animal species is inevitable unless humanitarian efforts are made to counteract and prevent the travesties that affect countless endangered animals every day. Poaching and deforestation are some of the lead causes for the status of countless of the world’s endangered species. Evidently, some animal species have already felt the harsh consequences of humanity’s actions. 

The African elephant is a prime example of this. African elephants are primarily poached for their ivory tusks, as they are believed to have medicinal properties. Additionally, African elephants shape and form their environments as they facilitate the germination and dispersal of up to 30% of tree species in Africa. According to the World Wildlife Organization, “They play a pivotal role in shaping their habitat because of the enormous impact they have on factors ranging from freshwater to forest cover.” 

Moreover, the pangolin, a scaled animal that resembles an armadillo, is described as the most traffickedanimal in the world by the African Wildlife Foundation. Its meat and scales are bought and sold illegallywhich has caused their numbers to decline rapidly. Pangolins control the insect population such as antsand termites in their ecosystems as well as improve the soil quality in the habitats in which they live.

 Another endangered African species include the Black Rhino. Black Rhinos are vital to their countries’economies through eco-tourism. Unfortunately, illegal poaching has left only 5,000 to 5,400 Black Rhinosliving on Earth. The International Rhino Foundation states that “In 1970, it was estimated that therewere approximately 65,000 black rhinos in Africa.”​

To the North East of Africa, Amur Leopards are scattered across Russian temperate forests. Amur Leopards are important, “ecologically, economically, and culturally,” to Russia, as stated by the World Wildlife Organization.  

Poachers are one of the main causes of the Amur Leopard’s declining population; their beautiful, spotted fur is bought and sold illegally on the black market. In China, the Panda plays an imperative role in the bamboo forests they dwell in. Pandas spread seeds of various plants throughout the forest, as well as bring in revenue to local communities through tourism. Habitat loss and poaching are both firm adversaries to the Panda’s plight of endangerment. 

To the West, in India, the public is rushing to save the Asian Elephant from extinction. Asian elephants are not only of significant Indian cultural value, but they also spread and germinate various plant species throughout Indian forests. Deforestation and poaching are both lead causes of the Asian Elephant’s endangered status, which is like the Panda situation in China. Their native rainforests are cut down to make room for human endeavors, while their tusks are often sold on the black market. 

Continuing in India, Bengal Tigers are at risk of disappearing from the world forever. Bengal Tigers are essential to their own environments as they help balance food chains and ecosystems.  

Additionally, Bengal Tigers are linked with inadvertently helping their own environments. As stated by the World Wildlife Foundation, “With just one tiger, we protect around 25,000 acres of forest.” Poaching and habitat loss have once again made its appearance as the cause for yet another species’ endangered status.

 Diving deep into the oceans of Chile, one may come across a Blue Whale . Like the Bengal Tiger, Blue Whales are vital to their oceanic ecosystems as they help equally balance the food chain. Unfortunately, many blue whales continue to meet their end as they get tangled in strings of fishing line and have access to only limited prey due to overfishing. 

Another endangered marine living animal is the Hawksbill Sea Turtle . The Hawksbill Sea Turtle protects coral reefs by preying on the sponges that block nutrient carrying fish from feeding on the coral. These turtles also have significant cultural and economic value, as they attract tourism from all over the world. Hawksbill Sea Turtles are often killed for their shells, and their eggs are eaten as a delicacy, even as they have “international protection status” according to National Geographic. 

It can, therefore, be concluded that illegal poaching, trading, and deforestation creates devastating effects on ecosystems that will not be alleviated without humanitarian efforts. These are the leading causes for the extinction of countless species as well as the disruption of many environments. The fate of these animal species hinges on the actions that humanity chooses to take from here forward.

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