5th June of the year is observed as World Environment Day and all of us would have surely seen numerous articles on planting more trees, and saving the ever reducing plant population. I recall having read this United Nations report of May 2019, relating to mass extinction of various species, which highlighted that approximately 1 million plants and animal species were at a risk of annihilation. Amongst those, there are certain species which aren’t talked about as much as they should be. One such species I learnt about was the Northern White Rhino. I was surprised to know that two Rhinos named Fatu and Najin are now the last two White Rhinos on the entire planet and sadly both of them are female!!
We are aware of the fact that humans have been directly or indirectly responsible for the extinction of a large number of animal and plant species, and White Rhino would just add to this long list….. Fatu and Najin are a mother-daughter duo and the fate of their endangered species now rests on assisted methods of reproduction, that being the only chance of bringing them back from the void.
A natural query arises, “Why is the White Rhino species declining at a higher rate than others?” It needs to be understood that the stakes could not be any higher. The major reason for this is that their natural habitat (in Central Africa) was interfered by civil wars in the late 20th century, wrecking a havoc on their sustenance. The most startling fact however, is the rate at which the decline happened. By 1970s, the population of the rhinos was reduced to about 700. By 1980s, only 15 Northern Whites remained!!! and by 2006, only 4 remained . This basically showed that they were dying off faster than they could reproduce. This is why Sudan, Suni, Najin and Fatu(the last four) were brought to a wildlife conservancy in Kenya in hopes of saving the species.
Sudan was the last male white rhino alive who was thus, kept under 24/7 protection by armed guards to prevent any threat. Infact, the tourists visiting him got very emotional because they knew that they were laying hands on a creature about to go extinct. Many cried. Sadly, there are no male white rhinos anymore after Sudan underwent euthanasia at an advanced age of 45 years in 2018.
One way of bringing the species back is stem cell breakthroughs. “Think of all the ridiculous things humans spend money on. This may be cheap in comparison” Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects for Dvur Kràlové Zoo, told ‘The Guardian”.
I wanted to look a little more into the matter, and the only thing it did was to bring up more and more shocking facts. I got to know about a few other critically endangered animals, including the Vaquita which exists only in the Gulf of California off Mexico. We don’t even know for sure how many of them are left now, but by 2018, fewer than 19 were left. From more than 200 vaquitas in 2008, to fewer than 30 in 2016, the species has gone through a rough ride mostly because of human intervention.
Another such species I came across was the Christmas Island Shrew, native to Christmas Island in Australia, which is either extremely rare, or possibly even extinct by now. The weird part is that no one is sure how it disappeared. But certain theories are that it might have happened because of the yellow ants(Anoplolepis Gracilipes) in the region. It could also have occurred because of other invasive species like rats or cats and obviously, because of continually increasing road traffic.
These are not even our only concerns. Animals ranging from the Javan Rhinoceros (only 67 left) or the Golden Toad or the Red Knots, and literally million others are under threat right now. The question that most people have is “How does it impact me?”
Well, plants and animals are responsible for a healthy ecosystem, so our ecosystem falls apart without them.
Secondly, over 50% of the most prescribed medications are derived from some or the other natural product.
Thirdly, a country’s tourism industry is a multi million dollar project, which is also dependent on plants and animals since people visit natural areas and also participate in wildlife related activities.
We cannot look after all the animals on Earth, but what we can do is to provide adequate funds to vigilant organisations devoted to such works. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was created to protect critically imperilled species. Maintaining our mother Earth is not a task, it’s our duty and as we occasionally hear ” we don’t have a planet B”. Now is the time to act and it’s better to raise your voices now, and help the environment now, instead of waiting for the worst to happen and regretting it later. Because then, you won’t have a choice. Humans are moreover, linked with the wildlife in a way that one cannot survive without the other.
A study that was undertaken to assess the needs of various species to humankind, highlighted the demonstrable links between individual species and ecosystem services and it concluded that just because we generally don’t know what most species’ roles in nature are, they are not unimportant. Hence it is high time that every single person plays his part to assist in conservation of natural resources.
See y’all soon,
stay tuned for more.