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Getting on an Endangered Specie List

There is a constant threat of animals being shortlisted onto endangered Specie lists. It appears we will only be able to deal with a fraction of those on the endangered list because of the large costs in keeping the population as it once was. The same can be said for plants whose native habitat is being destroyed systematically.

Some animals are more fortunate to be on endangered species list than others because of our fascination over them. Little do we know about animal lobby groups and funding to keep certain animals alive and not others because they aren’t cute or have no use for health cures. We still think that they can eventually be reintroduced back to their original environment or to another environment, which is similar in another country.

Such is the case for the Giant Panda being introduced to zoos in the US and other countries for breeding with the hope that it will be reintroduced to China. But if bamboo is going to be removed from their hilly habitats then it is unlikely they will survive in their old habitats. Another reality is that the programs for getting the pandas to survive in zoos are likely to increase. What about other endangered species, which are not as cuddly?

We have websites which advertise the availability of certain species over others but that does not guarantee that plans can be followed up to save the endangered animal and that the animal can be reintroduced.

If we think that the extinct of birds like the Dodo, which was eliminated for its meat, is the only example that is going to occur for a flightless bird, we are wrong. Any large bird flightless or not, is going to be vulnerable to an eventual extinction because of habitat elimination or introduction if it is not vulnerable already.  One only has to see the disappearance of the jungle canopy where tropical birds abound to note that there is a steady decline in their numbers.

Now if the ostrich has been successfully introduced into the states for it meat and eggs, that might offset any reduction in numbers in Africa but one has to think about other large birds that would experience a similar fate and haven’t had the luck of the ostrich in being relocated. This makes a statement on society that is like saying as long as the animal is marketable its survival is more guaranteed.

Similarly society is indirectly signing the death certificate for thousands of other species that either not appealing, or because they are not marketable or are less attractive. Does this mean that in order for us to save an animal from extinction it has to be comestible, or give a return for the investment we make on keeping it alive? Some species like the sea turtle are dubbed as flagship animals because people can identify with their plight but let’s face it, since turtles are kept as pets, this animal is more appealing in the public eye making uglier animals less likely to attract attention.

Understanding the decline in habitat makes conservation more challenging. As in the case of constantly developing coastal resorts, animals native to those habitats are being shoved aside. Their habitats are ruined. Similarly if it is a mountain dwelling bird, mammal or lizard that prefers a cooler higher altitude to reproduce and its habitat is being squeezed out of existence because of human expansion then those animals will be on the extinction list shortly.

The National Zoo in Washington may refer to the sea turtle as representative of the ocean’s creatures in their effort to conserve this animal but his also suggests that less appealing animals who are not as advertised will not the attention they need to survive. There is also a realistic cost issue facing world governments to save all endangered species.

There are other reasons besides commercial or medical to keep certain populations alive. Many areas allow us to connect to animals on a spiritual level. Certain wild plant varieties should be kept alive if we are going to eliminate plant diseases like fungus that will eradicate a domestic variety. But since we have tampered with plants like corn in resent years to bear a larger kernel, we have overlooked plant resistance and this is wear we have to keep the wild form from which other crosses can be done in the future.

Many organisms are related too, so the elimination of coral reefs is reducing the numbers of coral fish. It appears that the capitalist system needs to see some sort of return for human efforts in maintaining a given animal population independent of whether the animal is vital for the survival of other species it is connected to.

Scientists are aware of the problems faced in keeping food chains as functional as possible. They realize that the elimination of certain ones that control pests will disturb the environment. Perhaps this has contributed to a Smithsonian project of breeding the lizard since it keeps the rat population in control. Only a small fraction of the earth’s surface is being kept for animal survival programs. One would think that a larger amount would be more beneficial. Then again the world has a population of over 6 billion it did not have in the seventies when they’re only 4 billion. So with increasing population, there has been a decrease in available habitat and a resulting loss in land available for certain species to survive.

There are many fewer species then there were two hundred years ago because of industrialization and the growth of urban areas and the pollution we have caused. This is unlikely to stop no matter how well we classify what animals need help and how we initiate our conservation efforts. Some species have the luck of living in remote areas of a country like the Komodo in Indonesia lives on a few islands in the northeast part of the country. The mountain gorilla in Africa was the object of Dian Fossey’s efforts to save that population. But should those hilltops in Africa become attractive real estate those animals will risk extinction.

As it was the threat of poaching is always constant. One only has to see the constant black-market supply of elephant tusk ivory to understand that the African elephant is also on its way to being called endangered. With the elimination of matriarch  for their tusks another problem has ensued where male juveniles, no longer having adult figures to model their behaviour from, get agitated too quickly and become uncontrollable. That too invites their eradication unless an adult figure can be imported and calm the environment.Their Asian cousins also face extinction with the ever encroaching land clearing and removal of their habitat.

It appears we will only be able to deal with a fraction of those on the endangered list because of the large commercial aspect of maintaining a healthy animal population and the same can be said for plants whose native habitat is being destroyed systematically.

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