Whether it’s disappearing elephant herds in Botswana, dying coral reefs in Australia, or near silence of small tropical tree frogs in a Central American rain forest, the vanishing of animal and plant species all over the world is finally being directly attributed to manmade causes. This mass nature depletion, despite previous “wake up call warnings” is now occurring at an even faster rate than biologists and climatologists had previously imagined.
A recent CNN program, Vanishing, dealt with a variety of creatures presently in danger of simply vanishing from the face of earth due to direct and indirect influences of global warming,climate change; and human caused decimation. Ranging from some of the earth’s smallest animal species, such as coral and bees, all the way to the earth’s largest land mammal, the African elephant, the program gives a graphic account of how many of these animal species are in danger to becoming extinct.
Starting with African elephants living in Botswana, one of Africa’s largest remaining concentration of the species, the number of elephants remaining have dwindled dramatically in the past 10 years; and by more than 20% in the past few years alone: “If present elephant depletions continue at this rate, the entire elephant population here
could be gone in the next 20 years,” said a Botswana based zoologist.
Although elephants and other large animal species like giraffes are more noticeable as being severely endangered, the fate of many small creatures are mentioned as well. These include Oregon bumble bees, Central American rain forest amphibians like tree frogs; and coral reefs off the coast of Madagascar. These animal species in particular appear slated to become part of the Sixth Mass Extinction, according to the CNN program.
As pointed out in the program, the resident bumble bee populations of many areas have declined so dramatically in recent years that local farmers are now importing bees to be used to pollinate their crops.
One of the most graphic examples of mankind’s adverse influence on natural habitats, according to the Vanishing documentary, takes place on the Pacific Midway Island atoll. Located virtually midway between the continental USA and Japan, The atoll is home to large colonies of albatrosses and other marine birds. It is also a “collection point” for huge quantities of plastic wastes that wash up on the island’s beaches from the ocean. Located in the vicinity of what is known as the Great North Pacific Gyre, this plastic waste is often ingested by the birds, eventually killing them.
The tragic result are large number of dead birds; their gullets literally filled with this plastic material the birds thought to be food. Studies of the large “plastic island” waste patch in the Pacific Gyre estimate it to be larger than the American state of Texas.
In a region closer to home, the Middle East, the demise of animal species is no less alarming. The last lion was killed in Palestine more than 150 years ago; and the few remaining leopards in Israel and Jordan are now on the critically endangered list. This also goes for the once common Syrian bear; now seen more in zoos than in the wild. Hoofed animals such as the oryx and Nubian Ibex are also on the endangered list. These are only a few of formerly indigenous mammals that have either become extinct or are in danger of becoming so due to human encroachment and climate change.
It may be already too late to significantly reverse these disturbing trends. But at least we need to make a more concerted effort to save what’s left of the world’s animal species. If not, humankind will be directly affected by this Sixt Mass Extinction as well.
Read more on wildlife extinction and endangered species threats:
Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction – wake up call, folks!
Oceans spiralling downwards, threatening life on earth
Israel Animals Killed by Economic Development
Photo of elephant climate change victim by CNN