‘HIPPO’ – A Threat To Biodiversity

Posted on April 23, 2014 in Environment

By Manish Prabhat:

Conservation biologists, scientists who try to stop endangered species from dying out, use the word ‘hippo’ to remember the different things that threaten animals and plants, because each letter of ‘hippo’ stands for a different threat. Lets have a look on it and pledge not to follow these activities.


H – Habitat Destruction

Forests all over the world are being cut down and burned for many reasons. Forests in the tropics are cleared to make room for farms, but tropical forest soil is very poor, and so farmers have to keep moving on and destroying more and more forests to grow their crops. Companies also cut down forests for their timber, or to make room for other plantations, in which most native animals and plants cannot survive. Each year, 1% of the world’s tropical forest is destroyed. This doesn’t seem like much but it all adds up, and is not good news for native plant and animal species. Wetlands – lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps and rivers – are also very threatened habitats.

I – Invasive Species

Invasive or introduced pest species have caused many native animals and plants to become extinct across the world. Introduced species often have a very harmful effect on native species. For example, 24 rabbits were introduced to Australia in 1859 for hunting. Rabbits breed quickly, and, in an environment without any of their natural predators, their numbers increased so quickly that in less than a hundred years there were 600 million across the whole continent! The rabbits took over the resources and habitats of native species, like the bandicoot, which is now endangered.

P – Pollution

Pollution contaminates the natural environment with harmful substances produced by human activity. An obvious example of pollution is an oil spill. This happens when oil is released accidentally into the sea from a tanker, pipeline or refinery. The spill forms a thin layer of oil, called a slick, poisoning sea life, and damaging the fur and feathers of seabirds and mammals. Due to contaminated atmosphere, most animals ran away in search of an appropriate place to live. We all witness the lack of biodiversity in cities.

P – Population

The growth of the human population is the biggest threat to natural environments today. There are over 7 billion people in the world. Quite simply, there isn’t enough room for natural environments to coexist with all these people, and the land they need to provide them with food and shelter. As a result, in the race of survival of the fittest, animals and plants get crushed under the skyscrapers.

O - Over-hunting and Over-harvesting

People want whale oil and whale meat, elephant ivory, and rhino and tiger trophies. Although all of these animals are now protected by law from hunting, illegal poaching still continues.

Other species are over-harvested, they are used faster than they can be replaced, which is likely to lead to decline and extinction. Cod is now too rare to be caught in many areas off the coast of America and in the North Sea – and the situation is the same for many other types of fish. Plant species can also be easily over-harvested, the Brazil nut tree might be in danger of extinction, because not enough of its nuts are being left in the rainforest to grow into new tree.

If we all do a little bit to help preserve natural resources, we will help prevent many more species of animals and plants becoming endangered. Museums are probably the only place we can find the remains of extinct animals but that day isn’t too far that our children will visit a museum to see a tiger instead of zoo or national parks. Human existence will be nothing without the valuable plants and animals. They belong to the earth as much as we are, their existence is what gives us an identity. All of us must cherish them.