While it is obvious that climate change affects humans across the globe, it also affects the animal kingdom as well. For millions of years, animal extinction and endangerment has been a major problem. The Endangered Species International web site states, “Today, 99.9 percent of all species that have existed on Earth are extinct.”
That is truly a shocking statistic. In order to get a better idea of how this problem is becoming more prevalent, I spoke with Liz Harmon, who is the curator at the Kansas City Zoo. Harmon, who has a degree in zoology, has worked at the Kansas City Zoo for four years. Her job as curator entails overseeing the animal department, which includes the staff, animals and exhibits.
Harmon identified over twenty species of animals currently listed as endangered that live at the zoo. Some of the more well-known animals include cheetahs, chimpanzees, gorillas, black rhinos and slender-snouted crocodiles. She certainly agrees that animal endangerment can be attributed to humans. “Animals become endangered for a number of reasons. Man-made reasons include loss of habitat, over hunting, pollution, and changes in the environment (such as global warming).”
Even scarier than that is the fact that not all animal life around the world has been discovered yet. Harmon said, “There are species that haven’t even been identified that are becoming extinct.” So essentially, we are not even aware of exactly how many animal species we are selfishly killing every day.
Animals are responsible for generating huge commercial dollars throughout the world. For example, the Why Save web site stated, “Commercial and recreation salmon fishing in the Pacific Northwest provides 60,000 jobs and $1 billion annually in personal income.”
However, as salmon quickly become endangered, that large amount of revenue will soon be lost.
Harmon said, “People will begin to take notice once a major species such as the orangutan or gorilla becomes extinct. They will then begin to make changes, but hopefully it won’t be too late.”
Read More about Endangered Species:
- Green Family Values: Games that Teach about Endangered Animals
- Polar Bear Finally Listed as “Endangered”
- Wildlife Works
Photo credit: Adam Bowman, “Waterbuck in the Okavango Delta” Used with permission