Northfielder: Causes are many for decline and extinction of many animals - Northfield MN: Opinion

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Northfielder: Causes are many for decline and extinction of many animals

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Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 12:42 pm | Updated: 7:21 pm, Sun Dec 30, 2012.

Although the issue of endangered species is well known, most people don’t know how close many animals are to extinction, and how many extinctions have occurred over the past few hundred years. A species is listed as endangered when it faces threat of extinction in the near future. Over 1,000 species are currently listed as endangered worldwide. Although many organizations are working to protect these animals, sometimes a diminishing species doesn’t get listed as endangered, or get listed too late.

Human interference through habitat destruction and poaching has caused the decline and extinction of many species of animal worldwide in the past few centuries. In the 20th century, rates of extinction were several times beyond estimates, and over five times the number of extinctions in the 1800s. Many animals have seen decreasing numbers, especially in the early 1900s, which has led them to the brink of extinction. Hundreds of species including populations of Sea Turtle, Giant Panda, Tiger, Whale, Rhinoceros and Gorilla were listed as endangered in the 1900s.

Declining species have hope to recover, however, once they are listed as endangered. Large international organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) were formed in the mid 1900s, and have helped the issue of animal endangerment and extinction dramatically. Once a species is listed as endangered, they see improvement in population over 90% of the time. The legal protection given to animals added to the list has helped to repair populations of hundreds of species towards the end of the 20th century. One of the biggest problems that many species face is habitat loss through deforestation. The formation of national parks has helped repair some animal populations by protecting a section of land where they live.

Poaching of rare animals is another major threat. The trade of rare animal parts has made poaching common in central Africa. Organizations dedicated to protecting these animals have had luck combating poaching, putting strict legal charges on poachers. Nonetheless, conflict in this region of the world has made protecting animals from poaching harder. However another source of income has come out of rare animals in Africa that protects the animals rather than killing them. Animal tourism has become a large source of income in some communities, and it has become a business even former poachers partake in.

The issue of endangered species is one that more people should become involved in. By occasionally donating to organizations like WWF and IUCN, the average person can help protect endangered animals. If more people were involved in preserving animals facing extinction, it would be much less of a problem. Please consider giving a donation this time of year.

Keenan Day Diggins is a junior at Northfield High School. His guest column comes from a project in the Service Learning class at the school.

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