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Habitat Destruction and Deforestation
As of 2016, the global zoo population of red pandas is only estimated to be about 700 pandas. This is already shocking enough but according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, there are less than 10,000 total individuals worldwide in zoos and the wilderness together. This is terrible to think about especially considering that it was only 192 years ago that they were discovered and they are already becoming extinct. I don't want to create a world where our children never get to see a red panda or have to think about the fact that humans killed it and other species like it off completely. I believe that we need to do something about deforestation and the endangerment of animals. But the real unanswered question here is, What is killing off the animals?
Another one of the things that seems confusing when we ponder why animals are being hunted literally to extinction is how people have the capacity to kill. An interesting study was conducted by Geert Molenberghs where volunteers underwent a special kind of MRI scan that measures the activity of your brain's Orbitofrontal Cortex. The study was designed to show people 3 videos. One of a soldier shooting another soldier, one of a soldier shooting a civilian, and one of a soldier firing a weapon at nothing as a control variable. The volunteers then rated how guilty they felt from 1 to 7. " Even before the study, Molenberghs knew that when he read the scans he would focus first on the activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a region of the fore brain that has long been known to be involved with moral sensitivity, moral judgments and making choices about how to behave. The nearby temporoparietal junction (TPJ) also takes on some of this moral load, processing the sense of agency—the act of doing something deliberately and therefore owning the responsibility for it. " The results of the test were quite interesting. " In Molenberghs study, there was consistently greater activity in the lateral portion of the OFC when subjects imagined shooting civilians than when they shot soldiers. There was also more coupling between the OFC and the TPJ—with the OFC effectively saying I feel guilty and the TPJ effectively answering You should. " As Molenberghs showed in his experiment, when you feel guilty, not only does your free-thinking active mind believe this, your TPJ then justifies the guilt. So why doesn't this stop us from driving species after species to extinction? The answer isn't as simple as we'd like as is with most things. The terrible feeling we all look to avoid known as guilt would surely stop us from doing things that don't end well and ultimately make us feel terrible right? the problem, is greed. We have become so attached to becoming filthily rich that our morals become less important in the wake of killing a couple animals and making millions. The thing that we can do to stop this, however is quite simple. If we change our mindset and re-evaluate what really will matter in the end, things will go a lot better when we are faced with the decision of killing animals for a quick reward.
Another thing stopping people from helping endangered animals thrive is that they simply don't know what to do. I too, was one of these people until I decided it was time to make a change. After reading an article written by Mitch Merry of the Endangered Species Coalition, I found out just how easy it is to help. There are many easy ways to help from your home. As was stated by Mitch Merry on change.org, a few ways you can help are by:
1.) Learning about wildlife in your area and sharing it with friends/family members
2.) Visiting national wildlife refuges and parks
3.) Minimizing pesticide and herbicide use
4.) Not purchasing products made from endangered species
5.) Reporting illegal hunting and shooting of endangered species
6.) Protecting wildlife habitats
7.) Securing Garbage/trash and recycling
These simple and easy steps can quickly go a long way if people care enough to do them. We can all change things about our life to make it better so we should take a stand and stop it.
To shed some light on what is actually causing the problem of population drops for endangered animals. You would most likely assume that the reason is sport hunting. Although that is partially true, it's not for all the reasons people say it is. One of the biggest problems for endangered animals is in fact hunting for sport but according to Last Chance for Animals, " Sport hunting and the noise, fear, and predation associated with it causes great stress to all animals. It hampers their ability to find and store enough food to sustain them through the winter.". I found this pretty surprising considering the main reason for extinction that people bring up is hunters killing animals for fun. This is not necessarily true. Animals get frightened because of the loud noises and become fearful for their own lives even if they aren't in danger and as a result, don't find enough food to last them the winter. This in addition to regular sport hunting poses a huge problem for endangered animals. This however is not the only reason endangered animals are at risk. Another major problem for the survival of these creatures is hunting season. As LCA stated, " Some wildlife agencies set hunting seasons on animals during the time that they give birth to and nurse their offspring. As a result, mothers are often killed while searching for food for their young. The defenseless children then die of starvation or are killed by predators. ". Not only are sport hunters killing, scaring, and endangering animals but the wildlife agencies that are deciding hunting season are planning it during those animals birthing seasons. This is a problem because the animals are weak during birthing season and are defenseless so more animals die than should normally during these planned hunting seasons. This could easily be stopped if wildlife agencies just payed more attention to the times that animals are weak and give them a fair chance to survive hunting season.
The final and possibly most effective cause of animal endangerment is habitat destruction. This happening because our growing society "needs" to keep expanding and creating more and more places for people to live, hang out, and shop at. Some people argue that deforestation is necessary for us to continue thriving as a species. There may be some truth to this as Doctor Willem Van Cotthem points out, saying " Depending on the needs of the social group concerned, deforestation has made it possible for communities to be built. Forests make way for residential houses, office buildings and factories. Governments are able to build roads to make trade and transport easier and therefore more convenient to residents. " But what these people don't consider is that the cost of us expanding in this way may outweigh the positives. Deforestation can expose bare soil to extreme heat and rain, flood watersheds, and decrease biodiversity and cause extinction. An article linked with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) well explained it as " The loss in the number of biodiversity. This is probably the most serious consequence of deforestation. Put simply, it means the destruction and extinction of many plant and animal species, many of whom remain unknown and whose benefits will be left undiscovered. " The fact of the matter is that we are the biggest cause of extinction around the world. According to Pamela Lam from the organization "One Green Planet" says: " The conversion of forests into agricultural plantations is a major cause of deforestation. The increase in global demand for commodities, such as palm oil and soybeans, are driving industrial-scale producers to clear forests at an alarming rate. " Also on OneGreenPlanet.org it is stated that agricultural expansion is the number one cause of deforestation. This is not to say that there isn't a way to replenish the resources we lose due to desertification, it is simply that not enough people care about it to the point that something gets done. I think that this is sad, honestly and that something needs to be done. If enough people stand up with me and do something, we can change our world for the better before it's too late.
In conclusion, the world’s resources are being depleted by humankind and we need to take action and stop it. If we do these small little things, the earth can change by a lot. As people of this planet we need to stop hunting endangered animals, stop deforestation, and help by restoring the wildlife that our species has destroyed.