10 years to save the worlds wilderness?

1/3 of the worlds species are threatened with extinction. There are many suggestions that this is just a natural process, but in recent decades it is not. This is not happening because of natural mechanisms, it is happening because of human behaviour. Indeed, while many of these species are being pushed to extinction through loss of habitat, there are many others that are disappearing because of overexploitation by humans.

While a small number of charismatic species tend to get all the attention, perversely this is not a bad way to go, at least for many species. This is because in order to protect those big animals – animals such as Leopard tiger lion bear, we need to protect the entire ecosystem that they live in. As such by protecting these “umbrella” species we can often save many others which share the same range.

Now poaching does make this harder. For instance, pangolin scales are worth an incredible amount of money, due to a false belief that they can cure various maladies. Claims that this is how Chinese or Vietnamese people have lived for centuries is false – many of these species have only started being eaten or used for other purposes unsustainably in recent years.

Clearly the time is now. We need to demand that these animals remain in the wild. This must be done by governments around the world, however it must also be done by individuals. In many countries wildernesses receive few visits a year, and do not cover the upkeep costs – if more of us visit these wild places, more often, then there will be a financial incentive to protect them (as well as the resources to do this).

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