Hi people, Is the practice of protecting wild species and their habitats in order to prevent species from going extinct. Major threats to wildlife include habitat destruction/degradation/fragmentation, overexploitation, poaching, hunting, pollution and climate change.Estimates that 27,000 species of the ones assessed are at risk for extinction. Expanding to all existing species, a 2019 UN report on biodiversity put this estimate even higher at a million species. It's also being acknowledged that an increasing number of ecosystems on Earth containing endangered species are disappearing.
Habitat destruction and fragmentation
Habitat destruction decreases the number of places wildlife can live in. Habitat fragmentation breaks up a continuous tract of habitat, often dividing large wildlife populations into several smaller ones.Human-caused habitat loss and fragmentation are primary drivers of species declines and extinctions. Examples of habitat loss include;
- agricultural expansion
Habitat destruction and fragmentation affect wildlife because the resources available to wildlife are reduced. Moreover, destruction and fragmentation create smaller habitats. Smaller habitats support smaller populations, and smaller populations are more likely to go extinct.
Overexploitation is the harvesting of animals and plants at a rate that's faster than the species's ability to recover. While often associated with overfishing, overexploitation can apply to many groups including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and plants.The danger of overexploitation is that if too many individuals of a species are taken, then the species may not recover. For example;
♦overfishing of top marine predatory fish like tuna and salmon over the past century has led to a decline in fish sizes as well as fish numbers.
(B) Poaching and hunting
Poaching for illegal wildlife trading is a major threat to certain species, particularly endangered ones whose status make them economically valuable. Such species include many large mammals like African elephants, tigers, and rhinoceros. traded for their tusks, skins, and horns respectively. Less well-known targets of poaching include the harvest of protected plants and animals for souvenirs, food, skins, pets, and more; Because poachers tend to target threatened and endangered species, poaching causes already small populations to decline even further.
A wide range of pollutants negatively impact wildlife health. For some pollutants, simple exposure is enough to do damage (e.g. pesticides). For others, its through inhaling (e.g. air pollutants) or ingesting it (e.g. toxic metals). Pollutants affect different species in different ways so a pollutant that is bad for one might not affect another.
- Air pollutants: Most air pollutants come from burning fossil fuels and industrial emissions. These have direct and indirect effects on the health of wildlife and their ecosystems. For example, high levels of sulphur oxides can damage plants and stunt their growth.sulphur oxides also contribute to acid rain, harming both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Other air pollutants like smog, ground-level ozone, and particulate matter decrease air quality.
- Heavy metals: Heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury naturally occur at low levels in the environment, but when ingested in high doses, can cause organ damage and cancer.How toxic they are depends on the exact metal, how much was ingested, and the animal that ingested it. Human activities such as mining, smelting, burning fossil fuels, and various industrial processes have contributed to the rise in heavy metal levels in the environment.
- Toxic chemicals: There are many sources of toxic chemical pollution including industrial waste water, oil spills, and pesticides. There's a wide range of toxic chemicals so there's also a wide range of negative health effects. For example, synthetic pesticides and certain industrial chemicals are persistent organic pollutants. These pollutants are long-lived and can cause cancer, reproductive disorders, immune system problems, and nervous system problems.
(D) Climate change
Present day climate change is a man-made phenomenon currently changing Earth's environmental conditions. It's related to some of the aforementioned threats to wildlife like habitat destruction and pollution. Rising temperatures, melting ice sheets, changes in precipitation patterns, severe droughts, more frequent heat waves, storm intensification, and rising sea levels are some of the effects of climate change. Phenomena like droughts, heat waves, intense storms, and rising sea levels, directly lead to habitat destruction. Meanwhile, a warming climate, fluctuating precipitation, and changing weather patterns will impact species ranges. Overall, the effects of climate change increase stress on ecosystems, and species unable to cope with rapidly changing conditions will go extinct.While modern climate change is caused by humans, it's important to note that past climate change events occurred naturally and have led to extinctions.