Endangered Species Conservation
Why is the conservation of countless plant and animal species at the core of The Tangency Foundation’s mission? Because through conservation efforts combatting habitat loss (such as through overuse, or unregulated use, of natural resources), poaching, and pollution, we stand to preserve healthy ecosystems, providing a positive feedback cycle to repair and restore the environment to standards before those of human intervention. Join us in our pledge to species around the globe, to do what we can to make this earth a better place!
Warm-blooded, hairy (most of the time) animals that traverse in a variety of ways – both on land and on sea – those are mammals alright! Yes, from zebras to businessmen (even though they’re cold-blooded), mammals come in so many shapes and sizes it’s hard to believe they’re all so alike! The sad truth is, even though we are incredibly special as a species of mammal that has developed complex civilization, our storyline may diverge from that of other animals. You see, as Endangered Species Journalist Craig Kasnoff notes, we are solely responsible for the endangerment and extinction of other species on scales that “survival of the fittest” has never seen before.
Leopard pelts, elephant tusks, and other game trophies are sold on the black market each day despite international efforts to prevent it. By shunning the display of such atrocities, we stand to stifle the problem by creating a social environment in which the illegal animal trade turns no profit. That’s a start, but it only addresses one issue of concern for the endangerment of mammals – what about habitat loss and degradation, bycatch (marine mammals caught by accident as a result of fishing for certain fish species), and water, air, and land pollution from a variety of sources.
Around the world, 22 % of the over 5,500 cataloged mammals, have been specified as endangered, with 35 mammals red-flagged at risk of extinction.
If survival was a betting game, Amphibians would be playing with the highest stakes. Due to their fragile nature, small changes in their ecosystems can have drastic consequences on their populations. Indeed, amphibians face higher endangerment rates than all other animals, with scientist estimates placing between a third and half of the roughly 6,300 catalogued species of amphibians at a risk of extinction.
Habitat loss, water and air pollution, UV light exposure (such as due to hedging of rainforest canopies), the introduction of invasive species and foreign diseases – Amphibians, whose bodies absorb water through their skin, are at a risk of exposure to a vast array of deadly changes in their ecosystems as a result of human intervention. It is amphibians’ sensitivity to these transformations to the environment that make them the “canary in the coal mine” when we’re seeing so many species die-off in unheard of rates.
You can find birds in practically every environment in the world (except the bottom of the sea!). They are some of the most observable and recognizable animals, and have long served as guides to humans for changes to the environment with their migration habits mirroring seasonal changes, and their presence serving as near-sighted weather forecasts. According to scientists, bird populations worldwide have seen sharp declines - drops that signal profound transformations to the planet – as a result of human activity in their habitats.
According to recent estimates by the nonprofit BirdLife International, 12% of the cataloged 9,867 bird species are considerably threatened, with over 190 species at near-extinction levels! The loss and ruin of birds’ habitats have caused a considerable amount of the declines, but introduced species as well as capture by game-collectors are short seconds.
Would you drink a glass of water with a hair in it? Probably not, but fish around the globe deal with a much larger problem: toxins and pollutants in their water. On top of that, they’re facing competition for water as its demand rises alongside human population growth. If that wasn’t enough, we’ve introduced countless invasive species through the planet for one reason or another, which has the native fish populations competing for food – and for survival. That being said, it’s not surprising that so many species of saltwater and freshwater fish are threatened.
No class of animals are as diverse or varied as invertebrates, and with good reason – they make up over 95% of animal species on the planet! They’re found all over – from clams laden with pearls at the bottom of the sea, to the caterpillars right outside your house, to the corals that keep the oceans partying! They’re also some of the most important animals for research as the proteins found in various insects can be recreated in labs to develop treatments for cancer and other ailments.
While reptiles stand at 21% endangerment, it’s island reptiles in particular that seem to have drawn the short straw, with nearly 30 island-native species having gone extinct since the 17th century. As human intervention further isolates individual species of reptiles through habitat loss and degradation, more and more species will find themselves alone and restricted from interbreeding with other species. This fragmentation of their habitats impedes populations’ health, and with the invasion of invasive species, native reptiles are finding themselves competing for resources – and even finding themselves moved down a rung or two on the food chain.
The lungs of our planet, plants provide us the oxygen we breathe and filter out the carbon dioxide. Never waning in their fight against climate change, they work night and day to reduce our carbon footprint. They also provide us with the basis for most of the pharmaceuticals in circulation. Though there are over 300,00 known species of plants, the IUCN has only been able to evaluate 12,914 species, of which 68% are endangered.
Since plants cannot adapt to changes in the environment as easily as animals, they stand the most to lose in the wake of rising global temperatures and drastic changes in environmental cycles and levels. They can’t runaway from habitat destruction, and fall into “extinction debt,” where plants who appear prominently actually fade away over time due to the inability to spread to new patches of habitat. Global warming will only exacerbate this problem, and considering that plants are the bottom of the food chain – thereby affecting every strata above them – it would be important to ensure their survival. They are the crux of every ecosystem, and if we keep letting species die out, we are losing vast amounts of potentially life-changing medicinal research.