Animal conservation is the practice of protecting wildlife from population decline and extinction. Since every living species, including humans, rely on others to survive and thrive, animal conservation practices and how well they are executed can have a much broader impact to society’s way of living. Here’s three main types of animal conservation that you should be aware of.
Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of wildlife extinction. Just this century, four species including the Formosan Clouded Leopard, Spix’s Macaw, Mount Glorious Torrent Frog, and Cryptic Treehunter have been wiped out of the face of the earth because of deforestation. These are only four of the hundreds of species that have been lost in the past 20 years alone. Rather than restore habitats, the aim of habitat conservation groups is to preserve the existing land left from illegal logging, air and water pollution, and climate change.
Monitoring, classifying, and protecting endangered species is another essential part of animal conservation. In 1973, the Endangered Species Act or ESA was passed in the U.S. to protect flora and fauna. Estimates suggest that the legislation protected roughly 227 species that would have otherwise been lost without it. Species in the ESA list fall under one of two categories – endangered or threatened. In order for a species to be included in the list and categorized appropriately, scientific evidence must be presented. If a species does get selected, they are afforded protection under federal law against human activities including poaching and harassment.
Keystone species refers to animals that play an integral role within the ecosystem they are included in. Keystone species are also usually predators at the top of their food chain, such as bears and wolves. Disappearance of these animals can have a significant impact on the other species that populate and thrive within the ecosystem. A good example of this is the elephant’s role in maintaining balance within the Savanna. Elephants’ movements shape the grasslands and prevents wildfires by clearing pathways.
You can dig deeper into each field of animal conservation to determine which one interests you most. To get involved, you can also research which organizations are doing the work and sign up to volunteer or donate.