Endangered Species Day highlights the terrible plight that some of the world’s most recognisable and beloved creatures have had to suffer. It is sad to learn that technological progression, educational advances and express warnings haven’t prevented the extinction of some species. In April, the news of the West African Black Rhino’s fate went viral, with the official declaration of extinction dating back to 2011. This brought the Northern White Rhino species’ struggle to survive into the spotlight, as there is now only one male left.
The 42 year old rhino, named Sudan, is protected 24 hours a day by armed guards at his home in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. His horn has been sawn off to deter potential poachers, as rhino horns are sought after for uses in Asian medicine. He is one of five Northern White Rhinos left in the entire world. None remain in the wild.
Experts are now desperately trying to find a way of ensuring the continuation of the species. Sudan lives with two female companions aged 15 and 25, but mating them is proving difficult. The experts believe that Sudan’s old age and his low sperm count could hinder his ability to procreate. Other methods are being explored including in vitro fertilisation, which has proved successful with different species in other countries. Sudan may be able to mate with a Southern White Rhino, a species brought back from the brink of extinction through successful conservation efforts. However, because they are a genetically different subspecies from the Northern White Rhino, any hybridisations wouldn’t generate a complete resurrection of the species.
Several animal populations that once dominated wild landscapes are now facing extinction. The number of African lions has dropped from 450,000 in the 1940s to between 30,000 and 35,000. Since lions have always been considered a superior predator, it is surprising and sad to learn of their depleting numbers in the wild, especially because it is thought the growing human population is responsible for their demise. The largest species of animal in the world, the Blue Whale, is also under threat. Hunting in the early 20th century resulted in a steep decline in numbers, whilst modern issues like chemical pollution and boating add to the increasing problem.
Although this is a worldwide issue that has spanned centuries, there is still action you can take to conserve wildlife. Use social media and word of mouth to promote the fact that possible extinction is a real issue for some species, if the world remains in its current state. Adopt an endangered animal so the money you provide each month will contribute to their conservation. Animal Friends has donated to various wildlife charities including Save the Rhino, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Sumatran Orangutan Society, and so can you. Reducing your carbon footprint by making small changes to your lifestyle saves the earth’s natural resources, and inhibits global warming. You can do this by walking, cycling or using public transport instead of driving, and remembering to switch lights off whenever you leave a room to save electricity. Although these may seem like tiny steps, spreading the word and encouraging others to do the same will have a knock-on effect that can be experienced worldwide. Uniting in large numbers can help to stop the decline of some of the world’s most beloved animals.