Building a wall between the US and Mexican border has been not only a loud talking point during the past 2016 election, but now with Trump as our president it has become a near daily talking point. From the 24 hour news cycle to your neighbors across the street, everyone continues to talk about it. No doubt it has major human rights issues, and would mark itself a truly isolationist move our country hasn’t seen in decades—but has anyone considered the impact it may have on our planet? On our animal species?
Many important and endangered species live both in the US and in Mexico. Borders mean nothing to them, but a wall could decimate the improvements we’ve seen in these cross border numbers. Jaguars, bears, wolves, ocelots, bison, and even the symbol of our nation the bald eagle need access to both sides of the border (as do their prey). A study from the Center for Biological Diversity says that 111 endangered species will be detrimentally affected by the wall.
So, will this wall help the people? Studies seem doubtful. And well we know for a fact it will not help our wildlife. Walls do not encourage freedom, they do not encourage the health of our planet.
As we face more and more alarming numbers and statistics related to our endangered animals we face not only the loss of flora and fauna, but the loss of a country’s icon. Let’s look to Malaysia, a neighbor of Indonesia and a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural powerhouse. This country not only has a diverse population, but also is a megadiverse bio-climate with a high number of species and high levels of endemism. For their part Malaysia signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity in 1993 and produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention in 1998. However, they are not exempt from the trend of wildlife extinction. A prime example of that is the national animal of Malaysia; the Malayan Tiger.
The Malayan Tiger is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN in 2015, and in a count in 2013 researchers only found around 250 mature breeding individuals. This animal is important to the country: there are two of these tigers depicted on the coat of arms of Malaysia and it appears on many other heraldries of Malaysia. It is prominent in local folklore and the nickname of the Malaysian national football team. Overall it holds a strong place in the history and memory of the Malaysian people.
Malayan Tigers themselves are smaller than their Indian cousins, but still are magnificent predators. They prey on local deer and boar mostly, and like many other troubled carnivores occasionally take livestock as meals.
Their main threats are commercial poaching and infringement on their natural territories. While all states in which the tiger lives have banned domestic trade of tiger parts the practice continues. Their attacks on livestock leave people hunting down problem tigers. If their habitat loss and hunting doesn’t stop Malaysia will lose this important national symbol.
So what is being done? There are many success stories when it comes to endangered animals and scientists are hoping the Malayan Tiger will be one of them. First there is an effort to mitigate human-tiger conflict through better livestock management. By helping farmers have secure cattle sheds, tigers will reduce their predation leading to less needs to eliminate problem tigers. Next is land-use planning, that will lead to tiger-friendly choices and ensure protection of tiger habitats. Last is community outreach that will teach the people the importance of Malayan Tiger survival, and hopefully curb poaching. So, it isn’t all over for the tigers of Malaysia. As with anything there is hope and there is a will to allow these important creatures to survive.
Sometimes it is hard to look at the news, it is often filled with disheartening information about our environment and animals. However, every so often we are met with thrilling news; recently the Giant Panda was officially taken off the endangered species list.
For over a half a century an intensive worldwide effort has been made to save these iconic black and white bears native to China. China has long treasured the Panda as an international symbol of its country, and they have been at the forefront of the effort to bring back up the Giant Panda’s numbers. Many breeding centers have been founded, and training methods and styles have been formulated there to help give these captive born bears a higher chance of successfully living out in the wild.
While their native range was wide and expanded past the borders of China, the Giant Panda now only lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in Shaanxi and Gansu. Nonetheless the Giant Panda populations in the wild have risen by 17 percent in the past decade, and a few Pandas have even been found outside of their current range.
While no longer listed as endangered they are certainly still vulnerable. Pandas are at risk due to climate change, which will limit their environment and food source as well as contribute to disease. Now only time will tell if we will be able to come together and preserve the hard work that has already been done to save these treasured animals.
It’s been great over the past few weeks to see so many reports of increases in the numbers of multiple endangered species around the world.
With less than 150 birds left, and only 26 pairs of the animals of breeding age, the Taiko bird, one of New Zealand’s most endangered animals, hatched 26 eggs this season, almost double the number of chicks that hatched last season. While these numbers may not seem huge, every little bit counts, especially with animals that have so few numbers to begin with.
It looks like things are also on the uptick for the Hawaiian Monk seal, whose numbers have been declining since the 1950’s. Reports state that the survival rates for new pups are among the highest they have been in decades, and organizations are working hard to spotlight the preservation of the Monk seal and take action to protect them from contact with humans, which can result in everything from disease to entanglements with fishing nets and hooks.
Photo Via vivtony00
The Edinburgh Zoo has announced that it is building a new enclosure for their Sumatran tigers. The hope is that one of the results of this new enclosure will be the entry of a new generation of this endangered animal into the world.
While there is a lot of good news coming from organizations working to protect endangered species, there is still a lot to be done. So many animals are battling extinction and they need all the support we can give!