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Nature

Human Interaction with Nature: Endangered Animal Species

Editor’s note: Part two of the “Human Interaction with Nature” series focuses on human impacts on fauna. This post was written by Lindsay Crupper, and originally published on Friday, May 9, 2008.

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:

Photo credit: Adam Bowman, “Waterbuck in the Okavango Delta” Used with permission




7 comments
  1. Siberian tiger

    South China tiger is the most endangered cat species in the world. They are so vulnerable that some scientists believe that they have disappeared in the wild. In captivity they remained 50-60, unfortunately, can not the mate among themselves, as are all related, so that they will soon disappear. They have disappeared because of human negligence and greed.
    My recent post Meeting with nature- A tigers tale

  2. Jim47

    A good editor doesn’t hurt, either! Despite checking my post, I used “opposite” when I meant “opposition”, and I misspelled “tossing” as “toosing” 🙁 ~*sigh*~

  3. Jim47

    I certainly agree that the over-all effects of Humanity on other species has been generally detrimental. I would never argue otherwise. But toosing out sound-bites and casting about of statistics without a referent for those statistics is wasted effort. Specific numbers are far more valuable than mere percentages. Context is all-important; without it, the numbers don’t have much weight. And how statements are phrased is highly critical; the opposite will take any opportunity we give it to shred our arguments if we confuse “recent history” with “the Earth’s geological record.” I merely pointed out that your statement referred to 4 billion years of history. If I, a “friendly combatant” (I see much of my “job” as trying to get my eco-friends to write exactly what they mean, not what they think they mean) jumped on it that quickly, and comparatively benignly, just think what a Christian Right-winger who believes that God created the Universe about 8,000 years ago would do to it? There are very few compelling writer-scientists, but they can be developed, if any care to put forth the effort.

  4. Jan

    ok, your point is well taken, and I understand that the statistic may not be as shocking if we are considering the entire history of the earth, however if you read all of what the Endangered Species International web site states, it is shocking.

    “the sixth mass extinction is in progress, now, with animals going extinct 100 to 1,000 times (possibly even 1,000 to 10,000 times) faster than at the normal background extinction rate, which is about 10 to 25 species per year. Many researchers claim that we are in the middle of a mass extinction event faster than the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction which wiped out the dinosaurs.”

    I think the point is that humans drastically have increased the rate of animal extinction.

  5. Jim47

    Wait a second!!

    ” 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.”

    Really? How so? I don’t find it shocking; I find it just about right.

    Is there a geologist in the house? How about an anthropologist? Anyone with a basic first-year-of-college knowledge of Historical Geology will know that more than 90% of all species of living things died out long before proto-Humans arrived on the scene.

    Geez, can we please stop with the histrionics and get down to solid, fact-driven discussions of problems, causes and solutions? No wonder the right-wingers in government and society are laughing at us.

    “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.'”

    Well, we’ve lost some major species in the past 200 years, and humanity hasn’t shown much remorse, yet. We need to stop trying to push emotional buttons! It doesn’t work for those who don’t believe that Humans are a major cause of environmental degradation. They don’t have those buttons, so trying to push them is a waste of time. Hit them where it makes a real impact: in their wallets. Give the nay-sayers a reason to want to work to save the planet, a reason that is long on economic benefits and short on the tugging of heartstrings.

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