Snowy Egret, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr. (click on photo to enlarge)
Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Tuesday Tips and Pics, Our World Tuesday, Wild Bird Wednesday, Weekly Top Shot, Nature Notes, and Rural Thursday.
each species a thread
all woven into fine lace
web of life
I am using this photo I took of a Snowy Egret to represent the theme for this week and as an introduction to the topic of endangered species. We saw this bird a few days ago on a return trip this year to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah, USA. Only two have been sighted recently at the refuge. The Snowy Egret is a small heron, a wading bird with white plumage, a slim black bill, long black legs and yellow feet. They are found throughout the Western Hemisphere and breed along the coasts and inland where suitable wetlands are found.
Between 1880 and 1910, the beautiful plumes of these birds were in great demand by market hunters for adornment on women’s hats, thus reducing the bird’s population to dangerously low levels. This beautiful bird was hunted to near extinction! With the 1918 passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in North America, plume hunting became illegal, and the Snowy Egret population recovered. However, in some states (USA) the bird is classified as a “Species of Special Concern” or “threatened.”
What about other species that are currently threatened or facing extinction? What are they and what are the reasons for declining populations? Why should we be concerned? The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has a list, called the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which is set upon precise criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species. These criteria are relevant to all species and regions of the world. The Red List is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of species, and is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity.
“The source of our food, medicines and clean water, as well the livelihoods of millions of people may be at risk with the rapid decline of the world’s animal, plant and fungi species.” (IUCN June 2012)
The most recent update of the IUCN Red List, released in June 2012, shows that of the 63,837 species assessed, 19,817 are threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 33% of reef building corals, 25% of mammals, 13% of birds, and 30% of conifers!
“Sustainability is a matter of life and death for people on the planet. A sustainable future cannot be achieved without conserving biological diversity – animal and plant species, their habitats and their genes – not only for nature itself, but also for all 7 billion people who depend on it.” (Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General, IUCN)
According to the Animal Planet website which refers to IUCN data, habitat loss, pollution, overfishing and hunting are major causes of declining species population (amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates):
- More amphibian species are under threat than any single animal group.
- Birds of every shape, size and color are under threat.
- Only 10 percent of the nearly 30,000 known fish species have been evaluated for inclusion in the IUCN Red List, but nearly half those surveyed are now considered threatened or endangered.
- Invertebrates account for 97 percent of all animal species and are going extinct at an alarming rate, with crustaceans accounting for the highest percentage.
- Most endangered mammal species are threatened by habitat loss, while a significant percentage continue to be hunted despite dwindling population sizes.
- Only 8 percent of all known reptile species have been evaluated for inclusion on the IUCN Red List. Of these, over half are now considered threatened or endangered.
- Leatherback Turtle
- Sumatran Orangutan
- Mountain Gorilla
- Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
- Vaquita porpoise
- Irrawaddy Dolphin
- Snow Leopard
- Javan Rhino
- Asian Elephant
So what can we do to help secure the “web of life” and protect the future of endangered species? Even following simple green tips every day can help. Many suggestions can be found doing an internet search. Here are a few examples:
- animals.about.com – Helping Endangered Species
- www.ehow.com – Protect Endangered Animals
(Note on the Bear River Bird Refuge: This trip was our third visit this year, and there was a stark difference in water levels from our previous visit in May. With limited water in our state (Utah, USA) from low snowfall totals this past winter, and having the second driest spring since 1895, the refuge is keeping water only in priority nesting areas. Many other units are dry, or drying up. It was sad to see, but there was a higher concentration of birds in the priority areas. According to the refuge’s website, the birds have survived worse conditions in the past.)
This is for the letter “E” Story Challenge by Frizztext, to share a short story or reflection, even an aphorism using a word tagged with each letter of the alphabet.
Kim Klassen texture used is ‘Providence’
Other postings from this bird refuge:
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue
- M! Challenge: Migration, etc.
- N! Challenge: Nature, Nuisance, etc.
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Together
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Unfocused
For more detail on the information in this post, see the following references: