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4 Ways to Combat Habitat Destruction & Species Extinction

4 Ways to Combat Habitat Destruction & Species Extinction

… conservationists are left watching to see whether a species makes it that year, or not.

Spix’s Macaw - extinct in the wild, only 50 of these creatures remain in captivity

Spix’s Macaw - extinct in the wild, only 50 of these creatures remain in captivity

Species extinctions happen today somewhere between 100 – 1000 times the natural rate.

In 2017 we farewelled the fishing cat of Southeast Asia, three lizards from Christmas Island, Lister’s gecko, the blue-tailed skink, and the Christmas Island forest skink, as well as a Christmas Island bat, the pipistrelle.

In 2018 we lost Hawaii’s po’ouli bird (an insect-eating forest bird), two Brazilian songbirds, the Cryptic Treehunter, and the Alagoas foliage-gleander, while the Spix’s Macaw (see photo above) is extinct in the wild with only 50 or so birds in captivity remaining.

Reading this 2018 extinction update what I found most disturbing was the notion that in the case of some species, there is nothing left we can do, so that conservationists are left watching to see whether a species makes it that year, or not.

For example, the vaquita, the smallest marine mammal on our planet, has left than 30 members remaining in the wild, all of who live in the Sea of Cortez. To remove members in order to keep them alive in captivity could actually quicken the species’ extinction, as well as being considerably expensive. Will 2019 become their last year? Will 2020?

(For some hope on this, check out the campaign by Sea Shepherd, Operation Milagro V, who are patrolling and protecting the vaquita refuge to give this community the best chance of survival.)

With some species, we can see that their backs are up against the wall, and while we are intervening to do all we can, it is currently a very hope-filled process. For example, the northern white rhino species has only two living females remaining, and as we have sperm from their now deceased male counterparts, embryonic scientists are working to develop new ways to bring this species back from otherwise inevitable extinction.

And then there is a rapid decline and localised extinctions of insects due to climate change. As their home turf heats up, they necessarily move to higher, cooler elevations, but there is only so far they can go. Then as human ‘progress’ destroys their natural habitats, they find themselves running out of habitat options for their survival.

Cattle Farm / Deforestation in the Amazon, Brazil

Cattle Farm / Deforestation in the Amazon, Brazil

So what can we do?

How can we, in our everyday lives, do something to preserve natural habitats and all of their creatures, including their most vulnerable?

I’m not a conservationist, not a scientist, not an expert by any means, but from information freely and easily available I’ve come up with four common sense and practical ways we can make a difference in our everyday lives.

Four WAYS TO COMBAT HABITAT DESTRUCTION & SPECIES EXTINCTION:

1.     Make others in our sphere of influence aware of the issues

Many people we could influence are unaware that this is even happening. Speak out. Share this post or the references below on your social media. Check out the resources available from conservation organisations who work in your local area, home country, or globally, and share those resources as appropriate. Include action points. Often issues are so big and complex that they can result in passive inaction due to genuine feelings of being overwhelmed. Be determined to learn more about threats to natural wild habitats and their creatures, including those most vulnerable to extinction.

How?

  • Share this post on your social media

  • Check out the references at the end of this post and share those on your social media

  • Learn more to share via institutions like UN Environment

 

2.     Support NGOs working in this space

First, to support NGOs working in this space, we obviously do need to become more aware of the state of the protected wild parklands and vulnerable species in our local areas, home countries, and globally, and who are stakeholders in the governance and protection of those spaces and creatures. Once we know this information, we can then choose to support the actors working to preserve or reinvigorate those precious habitats and species. As much as I can tell so far (and it makes for some good common sense as well), the protection of natural habitats, in large swathes, is critical to ensure the survival of wildlife – after all, if we destroy their homes, where do we expect them to live?

How?

  • Find out who governs and protects the protected wild parklands in your local area or home country, and how you can support their work financially or through your volunteer or activist efforts

  • Check out the websites of NGOs like World Wildlife Fund, Sea Shepherd, Rainforest Action Network and others to see how you can support their work financially or through your volunteer or activist efforts

 

3.     Not buy products that rely upon exploitation or destruction of wild habitats for their production

This is a significant one. Many primary industries directly or indirectly destroy natural habitats to extract or grow the materials of their business, which are then made into products that we, as consumers, purchase.

How?

  • Only buy products that use sustainable palm oil instead of typical palm oil, or buy less (or no) products with palm oil in – this 2016 report from UN environment delves into the palm oil issue, particularly in relation to the conservation of orangutans, and provides recommendations for government, palm oil producers, conservation organisations, researchers and financial institutions  

  • Eat less or no animal-based food products – 45% of the current land surface on our planet is used for animal agriculture, whether grazing livestock or growing feed crops for livestock, and natural habitats (like the Amazonian rainforest) are cleared for use by animal agriculture every day

  • Buy fewer electronics, or buy them less often – mining pollutes our natural environments

  • Switch to green energy – whether switching to a green energy provider or setting up your own green energy collection system at home, while the initial construction of these systems obviously taxes the earth, their ongoing use moves you in a more eco-friendly direction away from non-renewables

 

4.     Minimise our waste footprint

Again, this is a place that we can have a huge impact as we make more #fortheplanet choices each and every day, in our ordinary lives. Never underestimate the impact or influence of your individual actions. The things we throw out end up in rubbish dumps (polluting and endangering natural environments, wildlife, and the humans who live around or on them), and often find their way seeping into our waterways and oceans.

How?

  • Stop using single-use plastics, and plastics generally, as much as you can, search hashtags like #breakfreefromplastic or #reducewaste on IG or search online for plenty of greener alternatives

  • Recycle whenever possible, and when it’s not possible, ask why not?

  • Instead of throwing out old clothes and unwanted items, repurpose them into new pieces (or pay someone else to do so), give them away to friends, sell them (whether through a garage sale or various online platforms), or find out where you can recycle them instead

  • Buy less – before you buy any item, ask yourself how long you’ll use it for before you chuck it out, and whether there is a less wasteful option

Sumatran Orangutans, their natural habitats are being destroyed by deforestation, often for palm oil production

Sumatran Orangutans, their natural habitats are being destroyed by deforestation, often for palm oil production

We can make THIS COMING YEAR different.

Through our ordinary everyday lives, through our daily habits and decisions, together we can make a massive difference for the protection of irreplaceable wild habitats and the precious creatures that live within them.

This coming year, we can choose to:

  • make others in our sphere of influence aware of the issues

  • support NGOs working in this space

  • not buy products that rely upon exploitation or destruction of wild habitats for their production

  • minimise our waste footprint

These actions will make a difference.

By undertaking these actions in our everyday lives, we can make a massive difference for vulnerable species and natural habitats around the world, and in our local areas.

Personally, I’m challenged by this. Some of these things I do consistently, some I do less consistently, and others I don’t really do all that much. So for me, in this coming year, I am working out how to do some of these things more consistently, including spreading more awareness.

I know we can make more of a impact and be more influential together.

What could you do this year?

Ref:

Kaufman, Mark. “Meet the Animals That Probably Went Extinct in 2017,” December 28, 2017. Accessed December 30, 2018. https://mashable.com/2017/12/27/animals-that-went-extinct-in-2017/#uCXyjGlRHPqG.

Kaufman, Mark. “These Are the Animals That Went Extinct in 2018.” Mashable Australia, December 29, 2018. Accessed December 30, 2018. https://mashable.com/article/animals-that-went-extinct-2018/#uCXyjGlRHPqG.

UN Environment. “New Report Urges Global Action on Mining Pollution.” UN Environment - News and Stories, November 13, 2017. Accessed December 30, 2018. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/new-report-urges-global-action-mining-pollution.

UN Environment. “Tackling the World’s Most Urgent Problem: Meat.” UN Environment - News and Stories, September 26, 2018. Accessed December 30, 2018. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/tackling-worlds-most-urgent-problem-meat.

UN Environment. “What’s in Your Burger? More than You Think.” UN Environment - News and Stories, November 8, 2018. Accessed December 30, 2018. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/whats-your-burger-more-you-think.

Photos:

Patrick Pleul/Picture Alliance via Getty Images, accessed via Mashable

Paulo Whitaker, Brazil Environment Society, Reuters, accessed via UN Environment

Sumatran Orangutan, accessed via World Wildlife Fund

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