Problems with Wildlife
It is blatantly obvious that the level of wildlife has been decreasing amazingly over the years. Species of animals and plants are rapidly becoming endangered or even extinct.
There are many factors that are making this problem a reality. Habitat destruction, hunting, and pollution are the three major factors that are destroying our wildlife.
The destruction of habitat is the greatest of all threats to wildlife, whether they're rich tropical forests, mangroves, swamps, coral reefs, or your own local grassland or woods. Most wild plants and animals are so closely adapted to their own particular habitat that they become rare or endangered if it is damaged or removed. Globally, the most worrying losses of habitat are the tropical rain forests, because these contain, by far, the largest number of species. Although large areas of tropical rain forests still survive, they are still being lost at an alarming rate, areas the size of small countries each year. Coral reefs, another rich habitat, are threatened by fishing and shell collection. The first comprehensive map of our planet's reefs indicates that they collectively cover just about 110,000 square miles, an area about as big as Nevada. That's about half the size that scientists had estimated (Discover, Dec2001, Vol. 22 issue 12, p20, p2/6, 1c). The coral reefs are dramatically decreasing. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the center for Marine Studies at the University of Queensland in Australia, studies the environmental conditions that reefs need to survive. Rishing temperatures, he says, are one of the most
Insidious threats. If temperature increases seen in the past decade continue, Hoegh-Guldberg predicts that in fifty years coral reefs as we know them will be gone. Short of drastically decreasing oru emissions of greenhouse gases, the best thing we can do for the reefs is reduce the amount of pollution they're exposed to, he says: "If you expose a person to a heat wave, you don't want to poison him to." (Discover, Dec2001, Vol. 22 Issue 12, p20, 2/6p, 1c). But perhaps a greater threat is the mud and silt from land erosion. This enters the shallow sea coral area from nearby rivers and kills the live corals.
People have hunted animals and collected wild plants for thousands of years. In the early days of human evolution, it was necessary to survive. Today, however, hunting continues mostly as a sport, or in more sinister fashion as illegal poaching for profit. Beautiful shells and some kinds of wild plant, including cacti, are collected as well.
The large whales were hunted almost to the point of no return for their meat, oil, and fat. In the 1980's most countries halted this activity and whale population now shows signs of recovery. Dolphins, smaller cousins of the whales, suffer from being snared in fishing nets and many die accidentally by drowning.
Hunting has had a major impact on large mammals, especially on the open plains and savannas of Africa. Rhinoceroses, elephants, and others are easily spotted and shot. Elephants are the largest living land mammal and the only remaining representative of the order Proboscides, which during the Pleistocene period roamed every landmass except Australia and Antarctica. And they are just killed to the point where they are
endangered ("Elephants" Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia volume 9). The high price of ivory has fueled the illegal killing of elephants, which have become rare in many areas. You may not think poaching is that serious, however, recently a South African court has handed down its heaviest ever sentence for a man convicted of killing an elephant in the Kruger National Park.
The man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he was found guilty of killing a bull elephant and hacking off its tusks.
Pollution comes from many different sources: Chemicals draining from farmland,...
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