Thursday, January 27, 2011

Humans are the main cause of extinction

Humans are the main cause of extinction
Human beings are slowly depleting the planet earth of its biodiversity. Habitat loss and fragmentation, wildlife trade, the introduction of an invasive species, and extensive hunting are only a few causes humans contribute to the endangerment and ultimately the extinction of many species across the globe. Eliminating an animal from its habitat affects the whole ecosystem, causing an imbalance that is very difficult to repair. For example, the displacement of wolves may be the cause of the overpopulation of white tail deer in Maine. A normal deer population should be between twenty to twenty-five deer per square mile, but Maine’s deer population is an astonishing one hundred deer per square mile  (Mere). The effects of the overpopulation can be seen in the forest itself. ” Deer change the makeup of forests with their appetites. They prefer certain saplings such as the sugar maple, pin cherry, and black and yellow birch leaving other species largely untouched. In open areas, deer grazing can allow ferns to spread, stealing valuable sunlight from some trees” (Crissey). Life lives off life, and as a predator becomes extinct or critically endangered, their prey flourishes. As time goes by and overpopulation sets in the species food source will not be able to keep up with the steadily increasing animal. The food source will not have time to replenish effectively, causing a famine. This can cause the species itself to be frequently mal nourished, and even cause some to die off due to starvation. The other animals that ingest the same food will suffer the same fate. This evaporation of nutrients can cause some hungry animals to start eating things that they aren’t supposed to eat, which can affect an even wider range of life forms. 
Deforestation, especially in the rainforest, displaces animals and is a leading cause of animal endangerment and extinction. As the human population grows, and the cities and towns expand, mass amounts of animals are displaced. Life once thriving in rainforests is destroyed by human expansion displaces, and ultimately endangers an extremely wide range of animals. The extinction of a single seemingly insignificant species can have a drastic effect on the areas eco system. “The educated guess is that each species of plant supports ten to thirty species of dependent animal. Eliminate just one species of insect and you may have destroyed the sole specific pollinator for a flowering plant,” explains David Quammen (qtd in. Butler). By eliminating a source of food in an environment many species are affected, which can lead to the loss of more and mores species similar to the domino effect. It is also believed that as animals are displaced their population density decreases. Plants become too spread out to successfully pollinate, affecting the species that it has a natural relationship with. Animals that would normally live in large packs would be almost helpless if their packs are not large enough. An animals group can provide protection, assist with hunting, warn of danger, and provides easy access to a mate. As population density decreases animals would have an extremely difficult time locating suitable mates.  With more and more forest being cleared each year surviving animals have less places to flee to. With cities, roads, farms, factories, and other man made barriers in the way of the fleeing animals it is far more difficult to find a new suitable habitat. Animals may have to relocate to unsuitable locations, which can detrimentally affect their likelihood for survival. “Many tropical species are used to constant, year-round conditions of temperature and humidity. They are not adapted to climate change even if it is as small as 1.8F (1C),” (Butler).
The trading of animals is also a leading cause of the endangerment and extinction of species. In the last 100 years the tiger population has been reduced nearly 95% due to deforestation and the illegal trading of body parts. The bones, teeth and other body parts of the tiger are widely used as medicine and as an aphrodisiac even though the practice is against WWF code. The passenger pigeon were brought to extinction decimated by American hunters who sold the birds as a cheap source of meat. The birds which population was an estimated 5 billion before Europeans arrived once flourished with little known natural predators. Migrating flocks would darken the sky and take hours to pass. It was fairly easy to hunt the birds, which may have helped contribute to their demise. The poaching of white rhinos and the illegal trading of their highly sought after horns brought the species to the verge of extinction. The horns where also sought after for their uses in Chinese medicine and their aphrodisiac properties. Pet orangutans are common in Indonesia, even though they are an endangered species. “In Indonesia pet orangutans are thought of as a status symbol. Habitat loss remains the single biggest threat to orangutans, but as it turns out, the pet trade and deforestation are closely linked,” (Kneidel). 2010). “The hunting and capturing of orangutans for the pet trade is, in a way, a by-product of the timber trade and the conversion of forests to palm-oil plantations,” (Kneidel). The loss of their protection leaves them vulnerable to capture. After the young are captured they are typically shipped to market in groups in the hopes of at least one surviving. “Up to 15 orangutans die to get one live infant to market,” (Kneidel). It is disturbing how the traders disregard the position these species are in. Measures must be made to stop the trading of endangered animals, and future animals that may become endangered due to trading. The fur of leopards, tigers, cheetahs, wolves and other fur bearing animals were once highly sought after and thought of as a luxury. Unfortunately the fur trading of these animals was not stopped soon enough.
Life should be cherished, no mater what form it comes in. Our planet is being taken over by our own race and we will not truly realize this until it is too late. That is why every human being should be more aware of the impact our species makes upon our planet. Instead of contributing to the seemingly unavoidable destruction of our planet we should all honestly think of what it would be like to be in an animal. The fact is Homo sapiens are animals but we somehow gained an extremely unfair advantage. The decline of biodiversity on our planet and our mass farming of domesticated animals may keep life from evolving in appositive direction. With all the diversity depleting all our soon to be extinct race will have are a couple of species that are living crops. The future will only be filled with animals that are bred only to be slaughtered; a free roaming animal would be the thing of the past.


Works cited

"Animal Extinction and Endangerment, Main Causes." Rainforests, Rainforest Animals, Other
Environmental Issues And Practical Environmental Solutions. Sept. 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <>.
Butler, Rhett. "Impact of Deforestation—Extinction." Rainforests. 24 Nov. 2010. Web. 29 Nov.
2010. <
Mere, R.J. "ADWA - Deer Overpopulation Is a Serious Problem."ADWA - American Deer and
Wildlife Alliance. 24 Oct. 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <>.
Kneidel, Sally. "Laws Flaunted: Flourishing Pet Trade Threatens Orangutans' Survival –
Sumatran Orangutan Society." SOS – Sumatran Orangutan Society. 25 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2010. <>.

1 comment:

  1. Sooner or later humans will be extinct, although I highly doubt me saying that. I enjoyed this post I like reading things like this.