Nature is beautiful and thus it should be protected and sustained. Some of the major lessons I learnt from the animated movie Rio in 2011 is the beauty of nature and the importance of protecting endangered species. One specie which drew my attention was the bird; Spix's macaw the Brazilian blu parrot, which was the lead role in the movie. As noted by researchers, Blu is now one of eight species that was added to a list of birds, facing extinction. However, late last year report by researchers noted that the specie blu macaw portrayed in the animated movie Rio is officially 'extinct in the wild'. This is one out of the many species that have gone extinct in the last 40years. Scientists estimate that we are losing species at 1000 to 10000 times more than the normal rate. Also, 40% of the world’s bird species are in decline. 1 in 8 birds is at the risk of facing extinction. The total number of animals living on the land has fallen by 40% since 1970. The insect population have declined by 75% in some parts of the world. Animal populations in freshwater ecosystems has reduced by 75% since 1970. More than 25% of marine life live in coral reefs. Nevertheless, about a quarter of the world’s coral reefs have already been damaged beyond repair.
There is a rapid loss of plant and animal life which calls for serious actions to protect these species. The loss of one specie should not be underestimated as they serve various functions in the ecosystem. They serve us water, food, medicine, commerce, aesthetic and recreational benefits. The loss of one specie creates an imbalance in the ecosystem which places a threat on man’s existence. A healthy ecosystem depends on plant and animal species as its foundation. Each species that is lost contributes to the loss of other species within the ecosystem. Humans depend on a healthy ecosystem to purify the environment. Without healthy forests, grasslands, rivers and oceans, we will not have clean air, water, and land.
Over 50% of the 150 most prescribed medicines were originally derived from a plant or natural product; of which only about 5% of known plant species have been tested for medicinal uses which means that thousands of plant species are likely to have medicinal value which are yet to be identified. Tens of thousands of Americans die every year from illnesses for which there is no known cure; the cure for most of these diseases might eventually come from plants, therefore, we must protect all species before they are lost forever. Species are very important as they serve recreational and economic benefits. The preservation of biological diversity is immensely important to the survival of the travel industry, and the local economies of such areas benefit greatly from activities associated with these visits.
Seeing the importance of these species, we need to make sure that they are protected and not lost forever. To do this, every individual has a role to play to ensure that we keep enjoying the benefits they serve. The government on one hand has a huge role to play in the protection of species through the monitoring of state and federal actions concerning threatened and endangered species. Politicians on the other hand have a huge role to play in coming up with laws that protect the environment. Passing policies that promote greening industrial strategies.
Citizens and the government have to admit that there is indeed a problem; the next most logical thing to do would be to take responsibility by way of learning about the importance of species. Little actions such as teaching friends and family about the wonderful wildlife, birds, fish and plants that live near you, goes a long way to help protect the earth. Citizens must learn to choose leaders wisely, and stop choosing politicians who deny the scientific evidence behind climate change because denying such a glaring problem hinders the chances of the coming future generation having the resource that they need to ensure a sustainable future. Individuals should protect the special places where species live because wildlife must have places to find food, shelter and raise their young. Activities such as indiscriminate felling of trees, destructive oil, gas drilling, over-grazing and unplanned development all result in habitat destruction and must be avoided. Endangered species habitats should be protected; protecting habitats ensures that the entire communities of animals and plants are protected. Open space also provides us with great places to visit and enjoy, hence, we should support wildlife habitat and open space protection. When you are buying a house, consider the impact it would have on wildlife habitat.
Personal lifestyle changes such as walking instead of driving or slowing down when driving, goes a long way to help reduce our carbon foot print and thus protect our ecosystem. One of the biggest obstacles to wildlife living in developed areas is roads. Roads that divide habitat present hazard to animals attempting to cross from one side of the road to the other; so when driving, keep an eye out for wildlife. Buying recycled paper, and sustainable products that have been certified as contributing to protect forest species is a lifestyle change worthy of consideration. We should also refuse buying furniture made from rainforest wood; such action will discourage illegal felling of trees. Minimizing the use of palm oil will reduce the felling of the forests where tigers, orang-utan and several other endangered species live. Controlling the use of herbicides and pesticides also help prevent the loss of species because such chemicals are hazardous pollutants that negatively affect wildlife. They also take a long time to degrade and the continuous use of such chemicals creates a build-up in the soils and later finds its way into the bodies of humans through the food chain.
Extinction is a natural process that would happen with or without humans but research has shown that it is happening quicker now than ever before. Unless we act now, the species will remain under threat of extinction and their extinction ultimately threatens our existence.
Msc student in Sustainability and Environmental Management
Postgraduate Taught Officer February – June 2019