When it comes to wildlife conservation, it’s sad enough that some animals are endangered, but the reason behind their situation is possibly even more upsetting: Us. Through deforestation, hunting and other destructive human behaviour, many species are dwindling in numbers, with some verging on extinction.
It’s interesting how we generally perceive extinction. Dinosaurs, for instance, have been extinct since long before the dawn of man, and we only first discovered their resting bones a couple of centuries ago. Understandably, the notion of dinosaurs living in our time, despite popularisation through movies such as the Jurassic Park series, is confined to the science fiction shelves and the minds of mad scientists. Dinosaurs are extinct and will be forevermore, simple as that.
What about the dodo? A squat, flightless bird isolated to Mauritius, the poor creature had never seen a human being before, which is why it didn’t flee in panic when sailors arrived in 1598. A century later, trusting little Raphus cucullatus was as dead as… well, a dodo. And yet despite walking among us recently, taxonomically speaking, the thought of a flock of dodos hiding away from human eyes is discarded as nonsense. Dodos are extinct; we ate them all; end of.
But aside from dinos, dodos, saber-toothed tigers, mammoths and whatnot, not much has gone extinct, has it? Maybe the odd insect that no one’s heard of, and there are too many bugs around as it is anyway, right? Well no, that’s not the case at all. Over the centuries, hundreds of species have disappeared from the face of the planet; some due to natural reasons, many due to manmade conditions. Most of us know that the mountain gorilla, giant panda and African elephant are endangered, but did you know that three lesser-known species vanished last year alone? It’s food for thought, and it leaves a bitter aftertaste.
The point of this rant is that Friday 16th May is Endangered Species Day; a time for us all to take action. The best way to help threatened animals stay alive is by supporting a relevant charity, such as WWF (not the World Wrestling foundation). I used to buy the WWF magazine (again, not wrestling) as a kid but stopped sometime in my teens. Since then I haven’t done anything to help their essential work, but I reckon it’s time I restarted. Will you join me in making a donation? If you’re in the UK, use this site. If you’re in the US, use this site. Alternatively, choose any wildlife charity you wish. Whatever you do, you’ll be helping the lions, tigers and bears stay where they belong: in the living world.