By Soumya Raj:
When I was five, I had my first encounter with nature. My parents had decided it was time for me to visit the zoo, for they needed some recreation and I needed an excursion. Apprehensive, I entered the zoo, convinced that it was the last day of my life, convinced that the animals there would eat me raw, for I did not till then, know the concept of captivity. The years passed, with me engrossed in encyclopedias, cramming as much as I could. To this day, the tiger is my favorite animal.
The alarming rate of the decrease in fauna is an integral issue. Overexploitation of nature, habitual destruction for the sake of progress, poaching and hunting; and pollution are some of the key, ‘controllable’ reasons which are the primary causes of endangering a lot of exotic species. Some animals are distributed in a limited fashion geographically, while others fall prey to the competition between the different tropic levels, and some get affected by the diseases which they succumb to when introduced to a new habitat and a few die out due to lack of finding a suitable mate to procreate. Below is a list of highly endangered species most likely to be wiped out by the end of the next ten years.
● Iberian Lynx: Only 309 of these exist today, in Andalusia, South Europe. This will be the first species of feral cat to be wiped out, if it does.
● Sumatran Orangutan: As of 2004, 7,300 of these exist in wild today and are exclusively found on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.
● Leatherback Sea Turtle: Largest of all the turtles, it is also called lute turtle and has a wide, cosmopolitan distribution.
● Panda: 3000 of these exist in the wild and are mainly native to central-western and southwestern China, dying out of low birthrate and habitat forfeiture.
● Dama Gazelle: National symbol of Niger and native to Sahara, fewer than 500 of these exist in wild today.
● Javan Rhino: With an ever shrinking distribution, only as scarce as 100 of rhinos live today in the wild.
● Tiger: Largest terrestrial carnivore, 3948 of these exist today fragmented within Southeast Asia
● Magallenic Penguin: A South-American penguin, millions of these exist today. Each year almost 20,000 are killed due to oil spills.
● Arctic Walrus: Fragmented in the Northern Hemisphere, there are only a few thousands of these ‘tooth walkers’ in existence today.
● Polar Bear: It is the world’s largest bear and lives around the Arctic Circle, with only as few as 19 sub-populations as of 2009.
For most of us who remain enthralled and dedicated towards fauna, there exists the other half of the world who don’t. For one who plants a tree, there will be two who will happily cut it with a chainsaw. For every PETA activist, there will be a poacher. For every animal who is born today, hundreds will be hunted down. It is time we preserve, for every human born on this planet deserves something more than a stuffed specimen inside the glass cage of a museum. We can either watch our planet disintegrating bit by bit every day, or we can choose to make a change and upkeep the ecology that sustains us. The choice is ours.