PRESERVATION OF ENDANGERED WILDLIFE SPECIES

Date: 22 February 2019

An endangered species is said to have a high probability of becoming extinct. Endangered species are a reflection of a degraded ecosystem due to anthropogenic activities. The degraded land causes fragmentations within the ecosystem triggering the loss of biota. Though, many species of plants and animals are yet to be discovered, scientists have determined that approximately 1.8 million organisms exist in the wild and not yet been catalogued.

For an ecosystem to be healthy it depends on the existence of plant and animal species. Humans depend on plant and animals to ensure a balanced and healthy environment. Without healthy forests, grasslands, wetlands, rivers and oceans, we will not have clean air, water, and land. Therefore, environmental contamination is reduced hence lowering the risks to our health.

Scientists’ says that over 60% of the 180 most prescribed medicines were originally derived from plants. Unfortunately, studies show that about 6% of the identified plant species have been verified for medicinal uses. The drugs needed to eradicate some diseases are yet to be discovered from the identified plants, therefore, we must protect all species before they are lost forever from the ecosystem.

Agricultural activities are important for the protection of species. Farming activities require pollinators which come from the ecosystem to ensure continuation of various fauna. This is vital in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, specifically to areas where human interaction affects wildlife habitats and activities. For example, studies show that many farmers are adopting silvo-pastoral systems, where the farm set up is a combination of livestock and crops on the same piece of land. This is known as agro ecological farming, an efficient land conservation method. Farmers also engage in restoration and reclamation of waste lands by making them productive. 

Species that humans assume to have little significance, provide ecological and economic services, in the food chain and energy flow in an ecosystem. For example, the northern spotted owl – is a health indicator in the ancient forest of the Pacific Northwest, the gray wolf – controls the population of some species like the elk and the killer whale – affects the diet of the bald eagle.

Factors that are used to assess species' conservation status are various. They can be assessed by evaluating the remaining population, the overall rate of population growth within a specific time, the ratio of breeding success to threats to name a few. The International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List established in 1964 for endangered species, has evolved to become the world’s information source on the conservation status of endangered species.  From this species are divided into several categories depending on the mentioned factors above i.e. Extinct (EX), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT), Least Concern (LC), Data Deficient (DD) and Not Evaluated (NE)

We haven’t done much to support threatened wildlife; we still have a lot to contribute to conservation of biodiversity on our planet. Many Non-Governmental Organizations working to protect wildlife rely on donations, due to lack of funds resulting in insufficient capacity to preserve species. Fees paid by the visitors at Parks help protect boundaries, pay for research work, and provide income to local communities, which is often inadequate in protecting the society against poaching, logging, illegal mining, and invasion by settlers. 

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Many challenges facing well-managed conservation areas are, not only protecting the endangered species, but also reconciling the interests of local communities within conservation policy plans. These communities’ livelihoods depend on subsistence farming, fishing, and the collection of forest products such as medicine, nuts and various fruits. Moreover, human-wildlife conflicts occur whenever policies are not implemented, for example, when a ban on hunting an endangered species is implemented, its population increases, and thus affects the community’s activities. For example the Maasai community in Kenya have for many years coexisted with lions. Unfortunately, the lion population is dwindling and laws have been put in place to ensure their prolonged existence. This however is affecting the Maasai’s primary activity of herding cattle, as the lions continuously attack their animals and they in turn are not allowed to kill the lions. 

Despite these challenges, human support is needed, since we play an important role in the preservation of endangered species. In conclusion, there is need for a sustainable system to be implemented to help balance the coexistence of human settlement and the wildlife. Recommendations can be reforestation, rehabilitation, recovery and reclamation of degraded lands; sustainable harvesting and use of timber and natural products; pollution reduction and control to minimize waste; and developing innovative strategies to conserve endangered species.