Human Effects and Involvement on Endangered and Extinct Species

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Last updated: February 19, 2019

This paper was constructed to give an overview of the vast majority of species that are disappearing and have disappeared from the earth. With informative knowledge and accurate numbers the reader was introduced to the different ways that animals are becoming extinct, deforestation, overpopulation, economic prosperity, population growth, urban environment, global perspective and science and ethics.

Each of these is affecting different species at different rates, but what was concluded by comparing numbers is that humans are truly responsible for their actions and the actions of causing the exaction and endangerment of animals. Humans are the underlying cause. This was not always the truth but over time like the species has evolved; human’s habits have evolved to hinder the animals. The choices that humans have made over the centuries have hindered the earth and its creatures on it. Introduction Man has relied on animals as far back as time can show, using them for food, shelter companionship and much more.What happens however when the reliance becomes abused and the resource begins to disappear? Over time animals have begun to disappear off the earth at a more rapid rate than what nature would suggest.

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Deforestation, overpopulation, science and ethics, urban expansion and global warming are just five of the main reasons humans can be to blame for the extinction and endangerment of animals. I have researched about the following species, the Philautus poppiae frog native to Sri Lanka, the Asian elephant, the Siberian tiger, giant panda and the polar bear.Each species seems to be declining at a rapid rate, but why? Some would suggest that animal endangerment and extinction is a natural process, which to some extent is true, but over the last century humans have watched as animals have become extinct in front of their faces, the most famous perhaps the dodo bird. The dodo bird native to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean became extinct in 1681 when humans arrived on the island and began to populate.

The bird not having any natural predators began to die off like wildfire when humans began to feed on their eggs and the bird itself. Eschberger, 2001). We are lucky that this was even recorded seeing as many species of animals are becoming endangered and extinct everyday without even being noticed. This is why I have composed a paper to say that the endangerment and extinction of animals can be held responsible by humans. Beverly Eschberger points out in her paper Extinction V: Modern Extinctions that before humans it has been estimated that species would disappear at a rate of one species per million years. This is a drastic change compared to now where 27,000 species go extinct each year in the rainforest (Eschberger, 2001).The purpose of this paper is to expose the facts using the species listed above and the human preformed actions to express why humans are at fault for the endangerment and extinction. My hopes are that if these reasons can be exposed than maybe there can be more done to put a stop to animal loss.

Materials and Methods The method in which I carried this experiment out was to zero in on five human activities that are endangering and causing animals to go extinct, the five focuses were deforestation, overpopulation, science and ethics, urban expansion and global warming.When focusing in on each activity I also focused on an endangered species that was specifically associated with it, although a wide variety to choose from I narrowed it down to one species that has become endangered and one species that has gone extinct for each activity. The Philautus Poppiae and Deforestation. The Philautus Poppiae is a frog native to Sri Lanka. According to its discoverer, George Meyer, the frog resides in Rakwana Hills exceeding an elevation of 1,000m.From this Meyer at the time concluded that the amount of species had to be very small (Manamendra-Arachchi, Meegaskumbura, 2005). This animal is highly dependent on habitats with high humidity for reproduction, and resides at the top of the canopies in the forest. When the trees are cut down the frogs are unable to reproduce (http://www.

iucnredlist. org). The Asian Elephant and overpopulation Asian elephant’s population once expanded from West Asia along the Iranian coast into the Indian subcontinent, eastwards into South-east Asia includingSumatra, Java, and Borneo, and into China at least as far as the Yangtze-Kiang.

Crude estimates must be made about the remaining population size because it has become hard to count the number of animals left in the thick vegetation where they have been forced to reside from people invading their areas. Asian elephants can be found in grassland, tropical evergreen forest, semi-evergreen forest, moist deciduous forest, dry deciduous forested and dry thorn forest, in addition to cultivated and secondary forests and scrublands.These are areas, especially the forests where the growing population of Asia and India have now become human homes and territory, forcing the animals to reside on smaller locations of land with fewer resources for them, and more for humans. (http://www. iucnredlist. org/details/7140). The Siberian (Amur) Tiger and science and ethics The Siberian tiger resides mostly in Russia along the Amur River.

The tiger used to range all over east Russia and west Russia, but now is in this small area where it is protected.There are no longer tigers in West Russia they have become extinct there (http://www. iucnredlist. org/details/15956). These tigers are primarily poached for their fur and medicinal purposes. According to Henry and Williamson the biggest reason for the Amur tiger’s endangerment is the ethical idea of using their bones for medicinal purposes throughout Asia.

(Henry, Williamson, 2008). The Giant Panda and Urban Expansion The Giant panda is confined to a small part of South-central china. Their diet consists primarily of the plant bamboo.Years of the Chinese cultivating and making way for a more urban lifestyle has forced these animals to continue to migrate up the mountain where their natural food has become scarce. This species previously ranged throughout most of southern and eastern China. There are even fossils indicating their presence as far south as northern Myanmar and northern Viet Nam and even stretching north nearly to Beijing (http://www.

iucnredlist. org/details/712). The Polar Bear and global warming Probably one of the most popular of the endangered species because it has been the focus lately for conservation is the polar bear.Polar bears rely mostly on the marine sea ice as a habitat for their survival so this means large scale changes in the environment will ultimately impact the population.

The climate changes and great ice melting’s will because the polar bears to have to swim and apply more energy to staying afloat than their bodies are made for. (Derocher et al. 2004) Results With the combined research I found the following results relating them individually to each species The Philautus Poppiae and Deforestation. The Philautus Poppiae is classified as endangered on the IUCN official endangered species list. (http://www.

iucnredlist. rg). As of right now the species is in a serious decline due to the destruction of its nature habitat which according to Meegaskumbura & Manamendra-Arachchi is Morningside and Handapan Ella region of the Rakwana Hills. When the forests are cleared away this species of frog undergoes sever stress from the drought, they also can not undergo their normal reproduction patterns without the high levels of humidity and moisture (Manamendra-Arachchi, Meegaskumbura, 2005). The deforestation, according to an article on IUNC. com written in April 2009, is mostly because of logging companies and smaller farming activities.

These however are not the frogs only threats, they also face the poison from the agrochemicals that are used after the trees have been removed. The population of frogs was recorded to be small and strict to the area it was found in when it was discovered, (Manamendra-Arachchi, Meegaskumbura, 2005) so because of this its estimated population size is not known. What is known however is that because the km of area in which the frog resides is steadily decreasing the frog is as well.

The species is unfortunately not protected; neither is Morningside Forest nor Handapan Ella Plains where the frog resides.In 1989 however government policy was set in affect and the area has been under what is known as “admistravtive protection (http://www. iucnredlist. org/details/61887). ” As Meegaskumbura and Manamendra-Archchi had suggested in their paper some immediate action has taken place Manamendra-Arachchi, Meegaskumbura, 2005). The article written April of 2009 on IUCN also describes how the Amphibian Specialist Group have convinced the government of Sri Lanka to designate all 1,000 hectares of the Morningside Cloud Forest as a Forest Reserve forBiodiversity Conservation, this in return has provided some protection for the frogs.

They are also working round the clock to provide a management plan to check in on the species and try and record its numbers (http://www. iucnredlist. org/news). As far as the other species that have disappeared from deforestation I did not have to look far; it has been recorded now that nineteen species of frogs that were from Sri Lanka have now gone extinct within the last five years, due to the devastating destruction of deforestation (http://www.

iuncredlist. rg). The Asian Elephant and overpopulation The results for the Asian elephant are based on the fact that India and parts of Asia are becoming overpopulated with people and they are taking over the elephant’s native home. Asian elephants live in the region of the world with the densest human population, growing at a rate of between 1–3% per year (http://www. iucnredlist.

org). Within three short generations the elephants population size has decreased 50%, this is an estimated 20-25 years based on the gestation period for the elephant.Like other species the exact number of the species left is uncertain but there are estimated population sizes for each area of their range; “Bangladesh 150–250; Bhutan 250–500; Cambodia 250–600; China 200–250; India 26,390–30,770; Indonesia 2,400–3,400; Lao PDR 500–1,000; Malaysia 2,100–3,100; Myanmar 4,000–5,000; Nepal 100–125; Sri Lanka 2,500–4,000; Thailand 2,500–3,200; and Viet Nam 70–150 (Sukumar, 2003) (http://www. iucnredlist. org). ” Counting the elephants is a rough procedure seeing as they have been forced to relocate in thick dense forests with harsh vegetation to get through to get to them.

It is for certain though that there has been a 50% decrease in the population and also that the species is still on a steady decline. Due to educational proposals in India about population booms, some of the elephants there may be on a comeback. The comeback is slight though seeing that another reason for the endangerment of the elephant is due to human vs. animal conflict. More people means more space needed to live when the people over into the elephant’s territory they tend to get territorial at times and the humans will kill them, or capture them for work.

These creatures require a large amount of vegetation with a lot of nutrition, when people invade their space and agriculture takes over, the animals and human just cannot co-exist together. The conservation efforts that are being sought out for these elephants are mainly to provide them with protected land that humans cannot move onto, no matter their population size. This also means laws and enforcing them where there are humans and elephants coexisting together. A species that has become extinct from overpopulation is the Amur Tiger in West Russia (http://www. iucnredlist. rg). The Siberian (Amur) Tiger and science and ethics According to Henry and Williamson the largest numbers of Amur tigers are not found in the wild anymore but in captivity, with as many as 5,000 in breeding programs out numbering the 2,500 that are left in the wild as of today.

Henry and Williamson go on to explain that this is mostly due to the human ethical conflict of using the animals for medicinal purposes. The animal is poached and hunted for its bones; they are ground up and made into several different medicines ranging from acne care to upper repertory infections.The animal is also killed for the unethical idea of ribs being a good luck charm to some tribes and fur being a fashion statement.

Because of illegalization of using the species for medicinal purposes in 1991 in china the species has now become popular among illegal animal trade (Henry, Williamson, 2008). To represent a species that has gone extinct form science and ethical reasons this species went extinct in West Russia, and is now only in a small part of East Russia along the Amur River hence the name change from Siberian tigers to Amur tigers (http://www. iucnredlist.

rg). Due to conservation efforts the animal did make a remarkable comeback in the 1930s when it was down to as little as 20-30 animals, they are still however considered a critically endangered species (http://www. iucnredlist. org). The Giant Panda and Urban Expansion Sadly enough researches have suggested that the giant panda is now down to 2,500 pandas in the wild with only 250 mature adults. The giant panda was near extinction and critical conservation effects have been taken to start to reserve them land so that cities are not being built where they reside.This has put the animal at a steady population size for now but still is critically endangered. These pandas used to range up and down the river streams but because these were good areas to build cities they have been turned into suburb area and even small what we would call towns forcing the pandas to rough ridged terrain.

The species that has gone extinct like the panda from urban growth is the pygmy giant panda. They two used to reside in the same area (http://www. iucnredlist. org). The Polar Bear and global warming Becoming large for campaigns and awareness programs is the polar bear.

Global warming is taking effect and its toll on the polar bear’s natural habitat, which are floating ice in the tundra. According to Derocher, sea ice changes both temperate and spatially, will lead to shifts in interactions involving polar bears through reduced availability and abundance of their main prey: seals (Derocher et al. 2004). This is not to say no direct relation exists between the measures of the ice disappearing and the abundance of polar bears. , it has been said however that at this rate polar bears will be extinct 100 years from now. This would mean a drastic decrease in the animal greater than 50% in 50 years.

The total estimated number for the bears is between 20 and 25 thousand bears, this number unlike the panda bears are on a steady decrease. Unfortunately conservation efforts vary depending on the area. Because their major threat is global warming the best conservation effort is just to make people aware of the decline in the animal due to human choice. Research is ongoing and captive breeding programs are in effect (http://www. iucnredlist.

org). There are several species of animals that have gone extinct recent years due to global warming one is the harlequin frog species across Central and South America (Handwerk, 2006).Handwerks article from national geographic suggests this species of frig died out from disease which can be attributed to the changing air and water temperatures. The amphibian’s skin is extremely thin which makes them more sensitive to the change in weather. The species is believed to vanish between the 1980s and 1990s (Handwerk, 2006).

Discussion In accordance to the results I have found I find my thesis that the endangerment and extinction of animals is mostly due to humans.If there are doubts that the activities I have described that are not human based than just look at the definition of deforestation according to Cleveland and Kaufmann in Environmental Science: “reduction in forest areas caused by human activity (Cleveland, Kaufmann: 526). Humans have to come to terms with the choices they are making and the effects they are having on the animal species. Not to mention the most important factor as Handwerks points out in his paper, this is a warning to us as humans (Handwerks, 2006).We are at the top of the food chain and if we do not take care of the creatures below us we will be the next to go, weather from using all our trees and having no resources left, running out of space and reaching the earth’s carrying capacity for humans, experimenting to much with the things we have just for the name of science, over taking our natural places to build towns, suburbs and cities, or continuing to use cars and machines that will emit CO2 into the air and continue to warm the earth at an alarming rate. Whatever it may be it is no doubt that the disappearance of these species is due to humans, and we are next.


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