The IUCN, an international organization that monitors endangered species, is constantly reviewing the standings of plant and animal species around the world. Their recent congress has some mixed news to report, as some species have shown an improvement, while others are ever closer to going extinct.
Four of the six species of great apes, the Eastern and Western Gorillas, as well as the Bornean and Sumatran Orangutan, are all listed as Critically Endangered, meaning that their numbers are so low that any more significant loss could drive them to extinction. In most cases, these species are most threated by hunting, which is illegal, but happens anyway as people still want parts of these animals for trophies, traditional medicine, and other purposes. Plains Zebras as well as have seen a population decrease, with only about 500,000 animals in the wild, they’ve been moved to Near Threatened.
Some species, like the Giant Panda, are rebounding, thanks to conservation efforts. And even among the endangered species listed above, some are doing much better than they could be thanks to conservation efforts. Conservation is one of the key tools in preserving species around the world, and those efforts are usually the best way to shore up numbers and keep populations healthy.
There are many threats to animals and plants throughout the world: Habitat loss, climate change, hunting, and invasive species are perhaps the most common. Animal populations in general cannot sustain human desires, which is the main reason most species have gone extinct in recent centuries. We use up their habitats or overhunt them for our own purposes, and usually crass purposes at that: People didn’t eat rhinos, for example; they simply killed them for their horns in order to make art objects.
As more and more species are threatened by an ever-growing number of dangers, it is especially important that we step up conservation efforts in order to preserve ecosystems around the world.