What is the importance of wildlife conservation? Is it that crucial? This guide gives you all you need to know about wildlife conservation.
Our world is a network of numerous interconnected functions, ecosystems, and species. The actions of one ecosystem or species have a direct or indirect effect on another. And every species is important in its own way.
Whether it’s the small worker bee that helps in pollination, a whale shark that controls marine ecosystems, or the underappreciated vulture that cleans the environment, each one of them has a role to play in the ecosystem.
Plants, on the other hand, offer numerous benefits to our livelihood. From providing clean air to food, water, medicine, and shelter, they are vital to our survival, more than we can imagine.
However, as humans, we don’t protect or take care of our wildlife as we should. Our actions have brought steep declines in our wildlife populations, and we’ve already started feeling its grave effects.
For this reason, the importance of wildlife conservation cannot be underrated if we want to survive and give future generations hope for a better world.
What is Wildlife Conservation?
Simply put, this is the practice of preserving and protecting animals, plants, and their habitats. In other words, protecting wild species against the risk of extinction!
But what is the goal of wildlife conservation?
Well, the aim is to maintain a healthy natural ecosystem by protecting and restoring the populations of these species. Protecting our wild species is a way of ensuring that generations to come will have a natural world to enjoy and marvel at.
Currently, the threats facing our wildlife include poaching, habitat destruction, human encroachment, pollution, degradation, and ultimately climate change. According to the IUCN estimates, around 27,000 of the assessed species face the risk of extinction. An even damning report by the UN in 2019 suggested that over a million of the total existing species face this risk.
Also, it has been noted that a significant number of ecosystems that contain endangered species are increasingly disappearing. The bright side is, various governments, non-governmental organizations have put their best foot forward to tackle these issues.
Laws have been passed, agreements signed, and treaties entered, all in the effort of saving our wildlife and maintaining balance in our ecosystem. In addition, various environmental leaders, conservations, scientists, and activists are doing their best to create awareness of the consequences and dangers that might follow.
Understanding our wildlife is the first step towards saving it. But where do we start? The wild species (animals and plants) maintain certain routines every year that guarantee their survival.
For instance, various birds, mammals, and reptiles will migrate seasonally to seek better climates, food, or even reproduction opportunities (e.g., turtles). On the other hand, Plants will experience the blooming of flowers, color change on leaves, and even shedding of leaves.
Understanding how these events or patterns occur is key in studying weather patterns (short and long-term) in various regions. This way, we can understand how climate changes affect biodiversity and the entire ecosystem.
Species use climatic changes to determine the right time to migrate, hibernate, breed, flower, or even shade leaves. However, major disruptions in local and global climates due to global warming have disrupted the natural flow of events, posing a risk to the survival of some species.
Temperatures are now warmer, leading to plants flowering and blooming early, early birds’ return from wintering grounds, etc.
And, since the activity of each species affects other species in the food chain, studying these events becomes crucial in wildlife conservation efforts.
Importance of Wildlife Conservation
Why is wildlife conservation important? Well, apart from the fact that it’s the right thing to do, here are the other reasons why you should care:
Over and over again, we have said that every species has a role to play in the survival of an ecosystem. Maintaining biodiversity is thus paramount to ensure there is balance in various ecosystems.
Wildlife conservation efforts adopted by various countries globally will ensure that species don’t go extinct due to reasons we could have avoided.
For instance, if we know plastic is a major health risk to marine ecosystems, why not adopt eco-friendly plastics or go organic altogether?
Remember, one species’ decline is a threat to the rest of the food chain.
Wildlife conservation plays a major role in reducing the suffering caused to animals because of being kept in captivity. For instance, elephants are being used to promote tourism in South-East Asia, but not in their natural habitats. The same case is happening in Indonesia, where orangutans are being used in boxing shows.
These are some of the issues that wildlife conservation efforts are trying to combat, giving these animals hope for a better existence.
When we say that ecosystems are interconnected, we mean exactly that. A decline in the number of some species (plants or animals) will directly affect humans.
The fact is that we are not self-sufficient. We get our food, shelter, clothing, water, and air, from the natural environment. If we don’t protect the plants and animals, we might also be destroying the only source of our livelihood.
Clean Water and Air
Taking care of the environment means a continuous flow of clean water and fresh air to breathe. These are the two sources of life in the entire universe. Plants need water to grow, allowing them to make food, and clean the air of excess carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas.
Animals also need water, air, and the food made by these plants to survive. Air and water pollution will have devastating consequences on the environment and its inhabitants.
See related: Best Eco-Friendly Water Bottles
Wildlife Conservation Efforts
What efforts are being taken to conserve wildlife? And, what is the result of effective wildlife conservation?
As noted, human activities are a major cause of wildlife extinction by increasing the rates, 1000 folds than normal. Numerous efforts have been made, both local and international, to protect various species on the brink of extinction.
However, since it’s not possible to protect each species on the planet, the ones at grave risks are chosen for protection. Other factors such as the importance of the species to its ecosystem are also considered when choosing a species for protection.
Examples of species under wildlife conservation efforts include the leatherback sea turtle, orangutan, black rhino, African elephant, Amur leopard, etc.
Unlike the first method that protects a specific species, this one involves protecting an entire habitat, subsequently protecting all its inhabitants. This is pretty preferable if there are several endangered species within a certain habitat or if a certain species is specific to certain habitat requirements.
This type of wildlife conservation is done through the designation of certain areas like nature reserves, national parks, etc., as protected.
This method studies the genetic occurrences that impact wildlife conservation. While most conservation efforts are focused on growing a species’ population, genetic diversity also affects the species’ survival. The higher the genetic diversity of a species, the higher it’s capacity to adapt, hence greater chances of survival.
Low genetic diversity due to factors like inbreeding reduces the species’ ability to adapt and survive. When this is the case, efforts to restore genetic diversity are made to ensure that the species survive.
An excellent example of this is the Florida panther, an endangered subspecies of puma. The animals were known to have significantly low genetic diversity and suffered various genetic problems such as low fertility, kinked tails, and cardiac defects.
The introduction of female Texas pumas to the Florida pumas population in 1995 helped solve the genetic diversity issue.
See Related: Animals That Start With X
Key Players in Wildlife Conservation Efforts
The importance of wildlife conservation cannot be overemphasized and has seen different players join hands to make it happen.
Those propelling the wheels of conservation include:
Different governments have since realized the importance of wildlife conservation. This has seen various laws enacted, all in the light of protecting our wildlife.
For instance, the US government enacted an “Endangered Species Act in 1973,” to protect various species facing the risk of extinction. Later in 1980, the IUCN established the World Conservation Strategy, with backing from various entities, including:
- The UN Environmental Programme
- The UN Food & Agricultural Organization
- World Wildlife Fund
Its goal was to promote the conservation of essential living resources, crucial to humans’ survival.
A country like Nepal also has made significant strides to save its wildlife. For instance, the country has put 23% of its total area under the government’s protection. This has seen all other conservation efforts fall into place easily and become effective.
The importance of wildlife conservation in Nepal is invaluable. This is because most of the country’s population still gets life essentials like food, shelter, fodder, fuel, and medicine from the wild.
The public has also seen the importance of wildlife conservation and has taken significant steps in protecting wildlife.
Various NGOs have come up to preserve and protect the environment over the past few decades. Both local and international organizations are working hard to ensure that different species and their habitats are protected from destruction.
Some of the top wildlife conservation organizations include:
- The Nature Conservancy – works with individuals, businesses, and local communities to preserve and protect wildlife and its diversity around the globe.
- World Wildlife Fund – promotes sustainable development in over 100 nations globally.
- Wildlife conservation society – strives to conserve the largest global wild places.
- The Jane Goodall Institute – established to protect chimpanzees in Tanzania.
- The Sierra Club – protects ecological communities and promotes smart energy solutions.
- Oceana – is devoted to protecting the planet’s oceans.
Their efforts have seen significant growth in the populations of the world’s most endangered species.
There are more individuals, now more than ever, taking on wildlife conservation by the horns. These include famous environmental activists, scientists, celebrities, leaders, and common but dedicated individuals, all trying to make a difference.
Take the example of people like Jane Goodall, Edward Abbey, or Rylee Brooke Kamahele. These individuals have dedicated their lives to protecting the planet in their own ways. Jane Goodall started her movement to protect chimpanzees in Tanzania, staying with the chimps for a whopping 56 years.
Rylee Brooke Kamahele, on the other hand, has seen through the enactment of conservation law in Hawaii. The law is meant to encourage environmental restoration, stewardship, and conservation across the state. No matter who you are, you can make a difference.
See related: Top Most Endangered Plants Around the World
What Can We Do at Local, Community, or National Level?
Proper Waste Disposal
Some of the trash we produce daily can pose significant dangers to wildlife. For instance, if we leave plastic waste lying around, some might find a way into water bodies where it can cause harm to marine life. Proper waste disposal ensures that we maintain a clean and safe environment for the prosperity of various species.
Recycle and Reuse
Instead of taking everything to the dustbin, which will mostly end up in landfills, we can try to reuse some items for different purposes. Recycling will also reduce the amount of trash reaching landfills and reduce the demand for new products.
For instance, discarded plastics can be used to make handbags, clothing, shopping bags, etc.
Things like planting trees or cleaning oceans and rivers can go a long way in restoring the once flourishing habitats. And since the loss of habitats is the main cause of species extinction, its revival also means restoration of wildlife.
Depending on your passion, you can look for a wildlife conservation organization that will allow you to contribute to their conservation efforts.
You can start with local organizations as you try to find bigger ones that fit your passion for conservation.
See related: Best Outdoor Jobs | Careers to Consider for Outdoor Lovers
Look for Wildlife Conservation Jobs
If you want to contribute more through your education and skills, you can look for jobs in the conservation field. As a graduate, you can grow your career in wildlife management planning, wildlife agency administration, healthcare, or even environmental monitoring.
You can volunteer your time in various wildlife conservation organizations offering such programs. Here you can engage in various activities like educating locals on the importance of wildlife conservation, feeding animals in parks, rescuing wild animals, cleaning beaches, etc.
Give a Speech on the Importance of Wildlife Conservation
Even without many resources to make a difference, speaking up and letting people know about these issues can go a long way. You can start by talking to your friends, family members, or colleagues about your passion.
You can even reach more people through online platforms or community meetings and gatherings. Whatever you can do to save our wildlife is certainly worth it.