Man shares this planet with some truly wonderful and diverse species. Throughout the millions of years since life began on the planet, many, like the dinosaurs, have emerged and then died out for a variety of reasons such as asteroids, the ice age and the like. The rate of extinction has gathered pace in recent years but this time, the reason is not a natural phenomenon occurring indepently of man it; it is man himself. If precautions are not taken soon, our children will only be able to see animals like elephants, rhinos, tigers, polar bears and many others in books along with saber tooth tigers and woolly mammoths. A targeted approach to dealing with the problem of endangered species is required. This approach should address the root causes.
One reason for the hunting of certain species to the brink of extinction is the use of their body parts in Eastern medicine. The demand needs to be eliminated to be able to put a stop to the hunting and this is tough as the practice has continued for thousands of years. In the short term, legislation could be introduced banning the use of the body parts of animals in the preparation of remedies to illnesses. China, the main location for such remedies, is a totalitarian state and should, if they put their mind to it, find it easy to stamp out the practice. Legislation should go hand in hand with education and the provision of universal healthcare. This two pronged approach should help towards dealing with the problem.
A second reason for the hunting of endangered species is ‘esthetic’: people wish to make their skin and fur into coats to wear; they wish to use their tusks or horns to carve jewelry and ornaments. This sickening practice has mostly been stamped out in western countries where even many fashion models refuse to wear fur coats or ivory necklaces. However, this is not the case in many other parts of the world, especially the east where most ivory is shipped. The problem can be addressed with a sustained public awareness campaign and legislation banning these products. Such a campaign could include the horrific images of slaughtered elephants and how their young suffer for instance. People are not made of stone and will eventually respond.
There is one other step that needs to be taken in the fight against poachers, the illegal hunters of endangered species, and that is a shoot to kill policy when they are discovered by rangers in the bush. It is tempting to ensnare them in the wire traps they set out for big game and leave them there to get a taste of their own medicine but this would, unfortunately, be impossible in modern democracies. An adequate number of rangers should be on duty in the nature reserves dotted around Africa, they should be equipped with the latest technology and show no mercy. The slaughter of all the species we share the planet with has gone on long enough.
There is one final reason for the danger of extinction facing certain species and that is one that will affect us in the long run too yet we are too blind to see it: climate change and the consequent loss of habitat. The melting of the polar ice caps is affecting polar bears but will impact mankind as well as sea levels rise. Desertification, another manmade disaster, affects communities and animal species alike. Rapid urbanization and the erosion of the countryside is also having an adverse effect on human populations and animal species alike. Some, like the urban fox and bears, adapt but others just disappear. The solution is an all encompassing and sustainable climate protocol if not for the animals then for us. Countries should stop paying lip service to the issue and take the bull by the horns for once and for all.
In short, where there is a will, there is a way. Provided governments are prepared to take the problem seriously, poaching can be stopped. Cooperation is required to make the effort work but this should not be a problem in the modern global world as long as people really want to do something about it.