The world is constantly changing and evolving. One of the changes that the world has seen in recent years is animal population decline.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports in their “Living Planet Report 2020” that mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians populations have declined an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016.
Why is it important to protect and conserve animals? If action is not taken to stop this rapid decline, many species may go extinct. Our wildlife conservation and zoo biology team wants to share some insight into why wildlife animal conservation is so vital and what you can do to help.
Why is it important to protect and conserve animals?
Each animal, from the smallest fish to the largest land mammal plays an important role in their ecosystems. Losing an animal species impacts their habitats altogether. Animals help pollination, keep forests healthy and even control pests.
For example, elephants play a huge role in their environments. African elephants help promote biodiversity in the African savannas and forests. They eat a lot of plants, but their stomachs do not digest all parts of the plants.
The seeds of those plants then pass through the elephant and get dropped in their dung. Elephant dung spreads the seeds across their habitat and promotes biodiversity in plants.
How are animals being protected and conserved
Wildlife organizations, like Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society, protect animals. These organizations work with governments to establish laws that protect animal populations.
One of the laws they helped pass is the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 in the United States. This act helps protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems they depend on. The species that are protected under ESA are species with the conservation status levels of endangered and threatened.
The conservation status levels
Vulnerable species are species that are likely to become endangered unless the circumstances that are threatening their survival is resolved. Some species that fall under this category are great white sharks, hippos and giant pandas.
Endangered species are organisms that are at high risk of becoming extinct. An animal can get put on the endangered species list due to habitat loss and loss of genetic variation.
Habitat loss occurs when a species' home gets impacted by destruction, fragmentation and degradation. While the loss of genetic variation prevents a species from evolving in response to an environmental change.
Some of the animals on the endangered species list include Asian elephants, African savannah elephants, blue whales, tigers and sea turtles.
An extinct species is an organism that has died out. A species dies out due to cataclysmic events, evolution problems or problems with humans. Some animals that have gone extinct in 2020 include: splendid poison frog, lost shark, Lake Lanao freshwater fish and Lord Howe long-eared bat.
How to help wildlife conservation and zoo biology
You can support wildlife conservation by visiting zoos and supporting wildlife organizations - like For Elephants. At For Elephants, we produce scientific data that will inform management decisions in South Africa.
In the U.S. zoos, we do endocrine (hormones) research to study reproduction, health and welfare to increase elephant reproductive rates and improve welfare.
You can support our research by joining our “Herd of Heroes” to make a monthly donation of your choice. Do not forget to sign-up for our newsletter down below.