Species extinction, causes, consequences and ways to prevent it

Species extinction is an issue that has become increasingly important in recent decades, as human activity and other environmental factors are putting the survival of many species around the world at risk. In this article, we will explore the causes and consequences of species extinction, as well as the measures being taken to prevent their loss.

According to the UN, it is estimated that approximately 150 species are currently becoming extinct every day, representing an extinction rate of between 18,000 and 55,000 species per year. This figure is much higher than the natural extinction rate and is the result of habitat degradation, pollution, climate change and other anthropogenic factors. The species most at risk of extinction are those that have a limited geographic distribution, depend on very specific habitats, have a small population size, and are hunted or captured by humans.

Causes of species extinction

There are many causes that contribute to species extinction, but the main ones are as follows:

1. Habitat loss: destruction and fragmentation of species’ natural habitats is one of the main causes of species extinction. Forest clearing, land conversion for agriculture and urbanization are some of the human activities that have led to habitat loss and species extinction.

2. Climate change: Climate change is causing changes in weather patterns, which in turn is affecting the distribution and abundance of many species. Rising global temperatures, ocean acidification and altered precipitation patterns are some of the effects of climate change that are affecting species worldwide.

3. Pollution: Air, water and soil pollution can have serious effects on the health and survival of species. Pollution can directly affect organisms, damaging their tissues and organs, and can also affect their natural habitat.

4. Overfishing and hunting: Overfishing and unsustainable hunting are human activities that have led to the extinction of many species worldwide. The demand for products such as ivory and meat from endangered animals has led to illegal hunting and the elimination of many species of wildlife.

Consequences of species extinction

Species extinction has serious consequences for biodiversity and the ecological balance of our planet. Each species has its role in the ecosystem and its disappearance can affect other living beings and the natural processes that sustain life on our planet.

In addition, the extinction of species also has implications for human health and well-being. Many plants and animals are important sources of food and medicines, and their loss can affect food security and human health.

On the other hand, biodiversity loss can also have an impact on the economy, as many industries and businesses depend on natural resources and ecosystem services, such as pollination, pest control, flood protection, among others.

Species that have become extinct in recent years

Some of the more notable species that have recently become extinct include:

  1. The western black rhinoceros (2011): This species of rhino was found in West Africa, The western black rhino was the rarest subspecies of black rhino. Its extinction was due to poaching that took place, the belief that its horns possess medicinal properties, and genetic and demographic factors.

2. Formosan clouded leopard (2013): This leopard species was found in Taiwan, but its natural habitat was destroyed by logging and agriculture.

3. Chinese river dolphin or baiji (2006): This species of river dolphin was found in the Yangtze River in China, but its population was decimated by pollution and dam construction.

4. The bucardo (2000): This species of mountain goat was found in the Pyrenees in Spain and France, but was hunted to extinction.

5. Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros (2010): The Vietnamese Javan rhino or Vietnamese Javan rhino is an extinct subspecies of the Javan rhino. Its extinction is due to demand for its horn for traditional Chinese medicine, subsequent poaching, increasing human population and use of the land for agriculture.

6. Christmas Island bat (2017) is an extinct species of bat that inhabited under bark, in dead foliage, and in tree hollows on Christmas Island. Its extinction may have been caused by a combination of factors: increased predation by introduced species, invasive action by the stilt ant and on the invertebrates on which it fed, or possibly an unknown disease.

7. Cougar of eastern North America (2018): Ranged from southwestern Canada to northern Nicaragua. It was the arrival of settlers that marked the beginning of their fateful destiny. They were persecuted for threatening the survival of livestock, and over the centuries their population declined dramatically.

Measures to prevent species extinction

Despite the challenges we face in conserving biodiversity and preventing species extinction, there are steps we can take to protect natural ecosystems. The following are some of the main measures being implemented:

1. Habitat conservation: conservation of natural habitats is one of the most important measures to protect species. Protected areas, such as national parks and nature reserves, should be established to protect the habitats of endangered species. In addition, ecological corridors that connect natural habitats, allowing species movement and genetic diversification, should be restored and protected.

Sustainable management of natural resources: Sustainable management of natural resources, such as fisheries and agriculture, is crucial to avoid overexploitation of species and environmental degradation. Sustainable practices must be implemented in food production and the exploitation of natural resources to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem health.

3. Control of invasive species: Invasive species are a major threat to biodiversity because they can displace and compete with native species. Invasive species control measures, such as eradication and control of their expansion, should be implemented to minimize their impact on native species.

4. Education and awareness: Education and awareness are important to involve society in biodiversity conservation. Education programs should be implemented in schools and communities to inform the population about the importance of biodiversity and threats to species. In addition, responsible practices should be encouraged in daily life, such as reducing the consumption of products that contribute to the loss of natural habitats.

5. Research and monitoring: Research and monitoring are important to understand threats to species and to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation measures. Studies should be conducted to identify endangered species, their distribution, and factors contributing to their decline. In addition, monitoring programs should be established to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation measures and make adjustments if necessary.

6. International cooperation: International cooperation is key to biodiversity conservation. International agreements should be established to protect species and their natural habitats. In addition, international cooperation initiatives for research and implementation of conservation measures should be encouraged.

In conclusion, preventing species extinctions is a crucial task to protect biodiversity and natural ecosystems. Habitat conservation, sustainable natural resource management, invasive species control, education and awareness, research and monitoring, and international cooperation are important measures we can take to protect biodiversity and prevent extinctions.

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