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Society’s Role in Animal Endangerment

A+Fur+seal+with+fishing+rope+tangled+around+it+from+polluting.
A Fur seal with fishing rope tangled around it from polluting.

A Fur seal with fishing rope tangled around it from polluting.

Photo Credit NOAA MDP

Photo Credit NOAA MDP

A Fur seal with fishing rope tangled around it from polluting.

Shania Campbell

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The problem of animal species populations dropping in the past decades is becoming an issue that needs immediate action. Multiple factors cause species to decrease in numbers, but the main reason is from people worldwide.

As the human population increased dramatically in the 1960s, the animal populations have been decreasing. One consequence is the use of chemicals. The DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) crisis, for example, took place from 1963 until 1972 when it was banned in the U.S. and the harmful chemical became famous for causing the major decrease in the bird population. DDT was a harmful chemical to kill off pesticides on farms, which did its job but also affected birds who ate bugs that absorbed the chemicals. The birds weren’t able to produce eggs with shells strong enough to support hatchlings, therefore decreasing the hatching rate dramatically. It was finally banned from the U.S. in 1973, but many bird populations continue to be low.

A chemical-based organization called Velsicol produced a chemical compound that was mixed into cattle food to boost a cow’s milk supply, but it ultimately led to a catastrophe. Thousands of cattle and livestock in Michigan were poisoned, causing 500 farms to be quarantined. The chemical not only affected animals and farms, but people were exposed to harmful chemicals linked to cancer. The chemical was eventually demolished in the mid-1990s after being created in 1973, only one year after DDT was banned in the U.S.

Oil spills continue to spread across the oceans and kill sea creatures worldwide. Gas and oil in the Arctic have been discovered as an immense issue for the animals since many of them eat fish which are being killed by the harmful toxins. Currently, there’s no effective method proven to clear the oil which ultimately slows the process of keeping the habitats clean. The only possible way to clean it is to use tools but using machinery or loud tools will disturb marine mammals because they use sounds to navigate, communicate, and search for food. Creating loud noises and frequencies near the animals can possibly cause them to approach the dangerous area.

Another significant cause of population decreases is hunting animals for their fur or meat. The five species of rhino are classified as critically endangered with varying numbers from 21,000 to only 30, mainly due to poaching. The two most endangered species include the Javan Rhino with 58-68 individuals and the Sumatran Rhino with an estimated 30-100. A subspecies of the Javan Rhino went extinct along with the Northern White Rhino and the Western Black Rhino. The entire Rhino population was at 100,000 in the early 20th century, but mainly due to poaching, a significant number have been lost. Rhinos have a largely decreased population because of illegal poaching in Asia and they will still be threatened if no immediate action is taken.

The Orangutan populations are at just over 14,000, which may seem like a lot, but it dropped dramatically since 1999 and it’s mainly because of people. Much of the decline is from land clearance and deforestation, but a large percentage also die from hunting for their meat.

Another species is the Amur Leopards, who are walking a thin line near extinction with a population of only 57 individuals. In 1970-1983, 80% of the leopard’s original territory was lost from forest fires, logging, and clearing land for farming. The Amur Leopards are also hunted for their spotted coat and, with their habitat surrounded by villages and agriculture, they are easy to reach.

Some animals are becoming endangered by accident from fishing or hunting in the wrong areas. The newly discovered dolphin species, Vaquita, was recently found in 1958 and became the most endangered marine mammal. The main reason for the currently low population of 30 individuals is from illegal fishing in the Gulf of California. These dolphins are mainly killed by drowning in gillnets which have ultimately dropped their population by 95% since 1997.

Pollution constantly plays a vital role in endangering and harming animals as well. Sea turtles tend to eat plastic bags instead of jellyfish and end up blocking up their digestive system leading to death. Other animals are regularly found with fishing nets, rope, or plastic material wrapped around their necks as a result of careless littering. This problem can be easily avoided by recycling and throwing trash into trash cans instead of on the ground.

Animal species with eye-catching fur coats, valuable horns, or delicious meat have a higher chance of becoming endangered due to hunting and poaching. These parts of an animal are valuable in markets worldwide and only allows hunters to feel the need to bring them to extinction for money. Communities worldwide can help keep the animals of the natural world from extinction easily and it only takes small steps to make a big difference.

 

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