Conserving South Africa’s Wildlife – It’s Up to All of Us

wildlife

It is no secret that the world’s wildlife population is under threat. According to Mother Nature Network, an extensive report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2014 revealed that the earth’s wildlife vertebrate population declined by 52% between 1970 and 2010. Yes, you read that right. That’s more than half our wildlife’s population! According to the report, the main cause of the decline is habitat loss and change – which is sadly, mainly due to human hands.

 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has created a list of critically endangered animals (called the Red List). Below is just ten of the endangered species in South Africa, according to this list.

 

Black Rhinoceros
Status: Critically Endangered
Major threat: Poaching for the international rhino horn trade.

Riverine Rabbit
Status: Critically Endangered
Major threat: Loss and degradation of habitat are the main threats to the species. As well as hunting and accidental trapping.

Pickergill’s Reedfrog
Status: Critically Endangered
Major threat: Urbanization, habitat fragmentation, afforestation, and drainage for agricultural and urban development. Some breeding sites are being polluted by DDT, which is used for controlling malarial mosquitoes.

De Winton’s Golden Mole
Status: Critically Endangered
Major threat: Habitat alteration and infrastructural developments with increased human densities.

Hooded Vulture
Status: Critically Endangered
Major threat: Non-target poisoning, capture for traditional medicine and bushmeat. Hooded Vulture meat is reportedly sold as chicken in some places.

African Wild Dogs
Status: Endangered
Major threats: Habitat fragmentation, which increases their contact with people and domestic animals, resulting in human-wildlife conflict and transmission of infectious disease, as well as predation by lions.

African Penguin
Status: Endangered
Major threats: food shortages due to commercial fishing operations. Human disturbance and egg-collecting

Cape Vulture
Status: Endangered
Major threats: decrease in the amount of carrion (particularly during chick-rearing), inadvertent poisoning, electrocution on pylons or collision with cables, loss of foraging habitat and unsustainable harvesting for traditional uses.

Blue Crane
Status: Vulnerable
Major threats: Widespread poisoning on agricultural land (both intentional and accidental [Barnes 2000]) and the commercial afforestation of large tracts of its grassland nesting habitat

Great White Shark
Status: Vulnerable
Major threats: Due to its negative media attention, the species is targeted as a source for sports-fishing, commercial trophy-hunting and occasional consumption

African Elephant
Status: Vulnerable
Major threats: Poaching for ivory and meat has traditionally been the major cause of the species’ decline. However, currently the most important perceived threat is the loss of habitat caused by ongoing human population expansion.

 

According to Ken Norris, director of science at the Zoological Society of London, “The scale of biodiversity loss and damage to the very ecosystems that are essential to our existence is alarming. This damage is not inevitable, but a consequence of the way we choose to live.”

 

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Norris goes on to say, “Although the report shows the situation is critical, there is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from businesses.”

 

Fortunately, there are a number of organisations who are doing their utmost to make a change so that our children and our children’s children will have the privilege of seeing these magnificent creatures – big and small – continuing to roam our Earth, making their crucial contribution to our environment and eco-systems. But it is up to us, the individual to do our part for conservation, no matter how small, otherwise the future looks bleak. After all, we put them in this position, it’s only right that we do our utmost to get them out of it.

 

6 Practical ways you can help save the animals in your own home:

 

  1. Use pesticides sparingly. Many pesticides can harm birds and other forms of wildlife so where possible, use natural ways of discouraging pests.
  2. Create an indigenous garden that will attract and sustain butterflies, birds and bees.
  3. Never feed wildlife (other than garden birds). Feeding them teaches them to become dependent on humans, as well as encourages them to enter our homes searching for food and posing a threat to both their own and human life.
  4. Don’t litter. Ever. Your plastic wrappers could end up in some unsuspecting animal’s stomach and the consequences are nothing short of disastrous.
  5. Volunteer at wildlife centres. There is nothing more precious than volunteering your time. From answering the phone, to dismantling traps, every little bit helps.
  6. If you are financially able, donate to a cause close to your heart. Your money will go towards continuing the fight to conserve our animals.

Get involved

Just some of the websites, where you can get involved, and show your support:

http://www.africanconservation.org/
http://www.africanconservancy.org/
http://www.unitedforwildlife.org/
http://www.greenpeace.org/
https://www.savetherhino.org

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