Endangered species and their causes
Many different animal species live on Earth, but some of them are seriously threatened. Major causes of this are the loss of habitat due to deforestation and urbanization, and the hunting of animals for, for example, their skin, their meat or other body parts that are processed into ‘medicine’.
Causes for the emergence of endangered species
A major threat is the disappearance of the habitat for many animal species. Animals living in the jungle have a hard time because more and more forests are being cut down, animals that feel at home in the swamp are in trouble because wetlands have to make way for other purposes. The natural environment is becoming smaller and smaller because people use the land for construction or, for example, agriculture. A threat to other animal species are people who hunt certain animals. They do this for several reasons. It can be the meat of an animal, but also the skin or the horns from which products are made. Fortunately, today there are also many organizations that protect animals and laws that prohibit the killing of animals, although not everyone adheres to them. There are programs to breed nearly extinct animals, sometimes successful, but sometimes very difficult. Other animals live in reserves. Here they can live relatively safely, although poachers are sometimes still at work here.
Rhinos now mainly live in India, Nepal, central and south Africa and Sumatra. They used to live in many more places, including in Europe. There are only five species left when there used to be 165. About 50 years ago there were at least 100,000 rhinos around the world, now that is only about a quarter of them. Rhinos are hunted by poachers for their horns. These are mainly used in Asia to make ?? medicines ?? to make it. For rhinos, work is being done on areas where they can live safely. A few species have therefore increased in number again in recent years.
Harpies are huge birds of prey that live in the jungles of Latin America. They eat sloths, monkeys and birds, among other things. Each harp pair needs many square miles to find enough food. Due to the felling of many tropical forests, the habitat of these birds is too small. While not directly threatened, their numbers are declining and they are at risk of becoming an endangered species.
The giant panda is also an endangered species. Pandas eat bamboo, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find enough bamboo because there is less and less forest in which it grows. A panda must also be able to reach several bamboo forests. This is firstly because there they encounter other pandas with which they can have young. Second, bamboo species all die off after a few decades. A panda must then be able to move to another forest where a different type of bamboo can be found to eat. Because there is more and more built-up area and more roads are being built, it is very difficult for giant pandas to reach another forest. Today, pandas live in Chinese reserves. They also live in different zoos. It is hoped that they will produce offspring, but pandas are very difficult to reproduce in captivity.
Animals caught and killed for their fur were spotted cats. Their fur was used for making coats. This has killed many cats. Fortunately, the demand for fur coats is much lower these days and fewer animals are killed for their fur.
Whales have been hunted for hundreds of years. Their flesh was used for food, the skin for shoes and the oil for lamps. Pollution is also a danger to whales. As a result, the number of whales in the seas and oceans decreased so much that agreements were made about how many more whales could still be caught. In 1986 whaling was completely banned. Not all countries adhere to this, such as Japan and Norway. The ban did lead to a recovery of the whale population, but it is still questionable whether this was timely for all species. For example, there are only about 300 to 500 North Atlantic right whales left. Whales take a long time to reproduce, making it possible for the North Atlantic right whale to die out.