If we look at how moved and concerned children are when they hear about endangered bears, we see a tap-root for political action. That tap-root should be part of the toolkit for activists. We need to accept our own feelings of grief and fear and we need to provoke conversations that touch the hearts of others.
7 main threats to wildlife, 7 things you can do & links to environmental groups
1. Climate Change
From more regular and fiercer storms to longer and more intense droughts, the impact of climate change caused by human activities is clear to see. It is having an extraordinary effect on the world’s ecosystems. Rising ocean temperatures and diminishing Arctic sea ice affect marine biodiversity, shift vegetation zones and force species to adapt to new conditions. From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk.
800 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean each year, washing up on previously pristine parts of the planet. This includes the Arctic and remote islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Plastic is having a devastating impact on the world’s marine wildlife with over 600 species under threat. They eat it. They get trapped in it. It overwhelms and destroys their environments. And because plastic degrades to microscopic levels, fish absorb it through their stomachs and into their flesh, meaning that humans also end up eating their own plastic waste.
Other pollutants like pesticides and herbicides released into the environment have a devastating impact also. They destroy insect populations, and with them all the birds and animals that depend on them.
3. Habitat Fragmentation
Habitat fragmentation is often defined as a process by which a large expanse of habitat is transformed into a number of patches, isolated from each other. Animals find it difficult to move between the patches, become genetically isolated and, as the patches become even smaller and less able to satisfy their needs, they head towards extinction.
4. Over harvesting
Over harvesting at a rate which is unsustainable (given natural rates of mortality and reproduction) will always lead to the threat of extinction.
5. Invasive Species
Many creatures have to deal with the threat of invasive species. Whether accidentally or intentionally introduced, these non-native species grow and reproduce rapidly and aggressively. They are one of the leading threats to native wildlife, putting 42% of threatened or endangered species at risk.
6. Habitat Destruction
Logging and habitat destruction is out of control. It has reached the stage where habitat loss is the greatest single threat to the majority of wildlife. Half of the world’s original forests are gone, and those that remain are being cut down 10 times faster than they can be replaced.
7. Illegal Wildlife Trade
The illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest criminal industry in the world. It is also one of the biggest threats to some of the most iconic species on the planet, like the rhino, tiger, pangolin and elephant. In some years more than 23 metric tonnes of ivory has been seized, a figure that represents the death of 2,500 elephants.