Wildlife conservation is the practice of protecting wild species and their habitats in order to prevent species from going extinct. Major threats to wildlife include habitat destruction/degradation/fragmentation, overexploitation, poaching, hunting, pollution and climate change. The IUCN estimates that 27,000 species of the ones assessed are at risk for extinction. Expanding to all existing species, a 2019 UN report on biodiversity put this estimate even higher at a million species. It's also being acknowledged that an increasing number of ecosystems on Earth containing endangered species are disappearing. To address these issues, there have been both national and international governmental efforts to preserve Earth's wildlife. Prominent conservation agreements include the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). There are also numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) dedicated to conservation such as the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International.
Habitat destruction decreases the number of places wildlife can live in. Habitat fragmentation breaks up a continuous tract of habitat, often dividing large wildlife populations into several smaller ones. Human-caused habitat loss and fragmentation are primary drivers of species declines and extinctions. Examples of habitat loss include deforestation, agricultural expansion, and urbanization. Habitat destruction and fragmentation affect wildlife because the resources available to wildlife are reduced. Moreover, destruction and fragmentation create smaller habitats. Smaller habitats support smaller populations, and smaller populations are more likely to go extinct.
Overexploitation is the harvesting of animals and plants at a rate that's faster than the species's ability to recover. While often associated with overfishing, overexploitation can apply to many groups including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and plants. The danger of overexploitation is that if too many individuals of a species are taken, then the species may not recover. For example, overfishing of top marine predatory fish like tuna and salmon over the past century has led to a decline in fish sizes as well as fish numbers.
Poaching for illegal wildlife trading is a major threat to certain species, particularly endangered ones whose status make them economically valuable. Such species include many large mammals like African elephants, tigers, and rhinoceros. [traded for their tusks, skins, and horns respectively]. Less well-known targets of poaching include the harvest of protected plants and animals for souvenirs, food, skins, pets, and more; Because poachers tend to target threatened and endangered species, poaching causes already small populations to decline even further.
A wide range of pollutants negatively impact wildlife health. For some pollutants, simple exposure is enough to do damage (e.g. pesticides). For others, its through inhaling (e.g. air pollutants) or ingesting it (e.g. toxic metals). Pollutants affect different species in different ways so a pollutant that is bad for one might not affect another.
Present day climate change is a man-made phenomenon currently changing Earth's environmental conditions. It's related to some of the aforementioned threats to wildlife like habitat destruction and pollution. Rising temperatures, melting ice sheets, changes in precipitation patterns, severe droughts, more frequent heat waves, storm intensification, and rising sea levels are some of the effects of climate change. Phenomena like droughts, heatwaves, intense storms, and rising sea levels, directly lead to habitat destruction. Meanwhile, a warming climate, fluctuating precipitation, and changing weather patterns will impact species ranges. Overall, the effects of climate change increase stress on ecosystems, and species unable to cope with rapidly changing conditions will go extinct. While modern climate change is caused by humans, it's important to note that past climate change events occurred naturally and have led to extinctions.
It's estimated that, because of human activities, current species extinction rates are about 1000 times greater than the background extinction rate (the 'normal' extinction rate that occurs without additional influence) . According to the IUCN, out of all species assessed, over 27,000 are at risk of extinction and should be under conservation. Of these, 25% are mammals, 14% are birds, and 40% are amphibians. However, because not all species have been assessed, these numbers could be even higher. A 2019 UN report assessing global biodiversity extrapolated IUCN data to all species and estimated that 1 million species worldwide could face extinction. Yet, because resources are limited, sometimes it's not possible to give all species that need conservation due consideration. Deciding which species to conserve is a function of how close to extinction a species is, whether the species is crucial to the ecosystem it resides in, and how much we care about it.
The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest turtle in the world, is the only turtle without a hard shell, and is endangered. It is found throughout the central Pacific and Atlantic Oceans but several of its populations are in decline across the globe (though not all). The leatherback sea turtle faces numerous threats including being caught as bycatch, harvest of its eggs, loss of nesting habitats, and marine pollution. In the US where the leatherback is listed under the Endangered Species Act, measures to protect it include reducing bycatch captures through fishing gear modifications, monitoring and protecting its habitat (both nesting beaches and in the ocean), and reducing damage from marine pollution. There is currently an international effort to protect the leatherback sea turtle.
Habitat conservation is the practice of protecting a habitat in order to protect the species within it. This is sometimes preferable to focusing on a single species especially if the species in question has very specific habitat requirements or lives in a habitat with many other endangered species. The latter is often true of species living in biodiversity hotspots, which are areas of the world with an exceptionally high concentration of endemic species (species found nowhere else in the world). Many of these hotspots are in the tropics, mainly tropical forests like the Amazon. Habitat conservation is usually carried out by setting aside protected areas like national parks or nature reserves. Even when an area isn't made into a park or reserve, it can still be monitored and maintained.
The red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) is an endangered bird in the southeastern US. It only lives in longleaf pine savannas which are maintained by wildfires in mature pine forests. Today, it is a rare habitat (as fires have become rare and many pine forests have been cut down for agriculture) and is commonly found on land occupied by US military bases, where pine forests are kept for military training purposes and occasional bombings (also for training) set fires that maintain pine savannas. Woodpeckers live in tree cavities they excavate in the trunk. In an effort to increase woodpecker numbers, artificial cavities (essentially birdhouses planted within tree trunks) were installed to give woodpeckers a place to live. An active effort is made by the US military and workers to maintain this rare habitat used by red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Conservation genetics studies genetic phenomena that impact the conservation of a species. Most conservation efforts focus on ensuring population growth but genetic diversity also greatly affect species survival. High genetic diversity increases survival because it means greater capacity to adapt to future environmental changes. Meanwhile, effects associated with low genetic diversity, such as inbreeding depression and loss of diversity from genetic drift, often decrease species survival by reducing the species' capacity to adapt or by increasing the frequency of genetic problems. Though not always the case, certain species are under threat because they have very low genetic diversity. As such, the best conservation action would be to restore their genetic diversity.
The Florida panther is a subspecies of puma (specifically Puma concolor coryi) that resides in the state of Florida and is currently endangered. Historically, the Florida panther's range covered the entire southeastern US. In the early 1990s, only a single population with 20-25 individuals were left. The population had very low genetic diversity, was highly inbred, and suffered from several genetic issues including kinked tails, cardiac defects, and low fertility. In 1995, 8 female Texas pumas were introduced to the Florida population. The goal was to increase genetic diversity by introducing genes from a different, unrelated puma population. By 2007, the Florida panther population had tripled and offspring between Florida and Texas individuals had higher fertility and less genetic problems. In 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimated there were 230 adult Florida panthers and in 2017, there were signs that the population's range was expanding within Florida.
In the US, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was passed to protect US species deemed in danger of extinction. The concern at the time was that the country was losing species that were scientifically, culturally, and educationally important. In the same year, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) was passed as part of an international agreement to prevent the global trade of endangered wildlife. In 1980, the World Conservation Strategy was developed by the IUCN with help from the UN Environmental Programme, World Wildlife Fund, UN Food and Agricultural Organization, and UNESCO. Its purpose was to promote the conservation of living resources important to humans. In 1992, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was agreed on at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (often called the Rio Earth Summit) as an international accord to protect the Earth's biological resources and diversity.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, wildlife conservation in the US gets a majority of its funding through appropriations from the federal budget, annual federal and state grants, and financial efforts from programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. A substantial amount of funding comes from the sale of hunting/fishing licenses, game tags, stamps, and excise taxes from the purchase of hunting equipment and ammunition.
In the late 1980s, as the public became dissatisfied with government environmental conservation efforts, people began supporting private sector conservation efforts which included several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) . Seeing this rise in support for NGOs, the U.S. Congress made amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act in 1979 and 1986 “earmarking U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds for biodiversity”. From 1990 till now, environmental conservation NGOs have become increasingly more focused on the political and economic impact of USAID funds dispersed for preserving the environment and its natural resources. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the start of former President Bush’s War on Terror, maintaining and improving the quality of the environment and its natural resources became a “priority” to “prevent international tensions” according to the Legislation on Foreign Relations Through 2002 and section 117 of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act.
Many NGOs exist to actively promote, or be involved with, wildlife conservation:
The Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park (AWCP) is a small wildlife park situated in the Botanic Gardens in Gibraltar.Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park
Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, formerly Birmingham Nature Centre, and before that Birmingham Zoo, is a small zoo on the edge of Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham, England. Owned and managed by Birmingham City Council.
As well as catering to tourists and locals, the zoo is actively focused in many scientific programs, such as involvement in the EEP captive breeding programmes with endangered animals, helping to highlight the plight of the world’s biodiversity through educational talks and campaigns.
The zoo is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).Conservation officer
A conservation officer is a law enforcement officer who protects wildlife and the environment. A conservation officer may also be referred to as a environmental technician or technologist, game warden, forest ranger, gamekeeper, investigator, wilderness officer, wildlife officer, or wildlife trooper. In Canada, all of these fall under the rubric of National Occupational Classification code 2224.Declared Rare and Priority Flora List
The Declared Rare and Priority Flora List is the system by which Western Australia's conservation flora are given a priority. Developed by the Government of Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation, it is used extensively within the department, including the Western Australian Herbarium. The herbarium's journal, Nuytsia, which has published over a quarter of the state's conservation taxa, requires a conservation status to be included in all publications of new Western Australian taxa that appear to be rare or endangered.
The system defines six levels of priority taxa:
X: Threatened (Declared Rare Flora) – Presumed Extinct Taxa
These are taxa that are thought to be extinct, either because they have not been collected for over 50 years despite thorough searching, or because all known wild populations have been destroyed. They have been declared as such in accordance with the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, and are therefore afforded legislative protection under that act.
T: Threatened (Declared Rare Flora) – Extant Taxa
These are taxa that have been thoroughly surveyed, and determined to be rare, in danger of extinction, or otherwise in need of special protection. They have been declared rare in accordance with the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, and are therefore afforded legislative protection under that act. The code for this category was previously 'R'.
P1: Priority One – Poorly Known Taxa
These are taxa that are known from only a few (generally less than five) populations, all of which are under immediate threat. They are candidates for declaration as rare flora, but are in need of further survey.
P2: Priority Two – Poorly Known Taxa
These are taxa that are known from only a few (generally less than five) populations, some of which are not thought to be under immediate threat. They are candidates for declaration as rare flora, but are in need of further survey.
P3: Priority Three – Poorly Known Taxa
That are taxa that are known from several populations, some of which are not thought to be under immediate threat. They are candidates for declaration as rare flora, but are in need of further survey.
P4: Priority Four – Rare Taxa
These are taxa that have been adequately surveyed, and are rare but not known to be under threat.Department of Wildlife Conservation (Sri Lanka)
The Department of Wildlife Conservation (Sinhala: වනජීවී සංරක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව Vanajivi Sanrakshana Departhamenthuwa) is a non-ministerial government department in Sri Lanka. It is the government department responsible for maintaining national parks, nature reserves and wildlife in wilderness areas in Sri Lanka. Forest reserves and wilderness areas are maintained by the Department of Forest Conservation. The head of the Department is the Director General of Wildlife Conservation, formally known as Warden. It was established in October 1949 with Captain Cyril Nicholas, MC as its first Warden.Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is a conservation organization with a mission to save species from extinction.
Gerald Durrell founded the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust as a charitable institution in 1963 with the dodo as its symbol. The trust was renamed Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in its founder's honour on 26 March 1999. Its patron is Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.Its headquarters are at Les Augrès Manor on the isle of Jersey in the English Channel. The grounds of Les Augrès Manor form the Durrell Wildlife Park, which was originally established by Gerald Durrell in 1959 as a sanctuary and breeding centre for endangered species. The zoological park was known as the Jersey Zoo at that time.Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area
The Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area is a national, bi-state area on the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky in the United States, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Federal status was awarded in 1981. The falls were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1966.Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is a Florida government agency founded in 1999 and headquartered in Tallahassee. It manages and regulates the state's fish and wildlife resources, and enforces related laws. Officers are managers, researchers, support personnel, and perform law enforcement in the course of their duties.John L. Behler
John L. Behler (1946 – January 31, 2006) was an American naturalist, herpetologist, author, and activist known for his work in conserving endangered species of turtles, snakes, and other reptiles. He served as curator of herpetology at the Bronx Zoo, part of the Wildlife Conservation Society from 1976 to 2006. He co-chaired the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, and was a founding member of the Turtle Survival Alliance, which co-present the Behler Turtle Conservation Award with the Turtle Conservancy and Turtle Conservation Fund. The Behler Turtle Conservation Award is a major annual award to honor leadership in the field of freshwater turtle and tortoise conservation. The Turtle Conservancy named its captive breeding center, the Behler Chelonian Center, in his honor.Ministry of Wildlife Resources Conservation
The Ministry of Wildlife Resources Conservation also known as the Ministry of Agrarian Services & Wildlife is a ministry in the Government of Sri Lanka responsible "to pave the way for human beings and all animal species to live in harmony through the establishment of an effective Wildlife Reservation Network". It was created on 6 February 2013.Pennsylvania Game Commission
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is the state agency responsible for wildlife conservation and management in Pennsylvania in the United States. It was founded over 100 years ago and has more than 700 employees.Prospect Park Zoo
The Prospect Park Zoo is a 12-acre (4.9 ha) zoo located off Flatbush Avenue on the eastern side of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City. As of 2016, the zoo houses 864 animals representing about 176 species, and as of 2007, it averages 300,000 visitors annually. The Prospect Park Zoo is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). In conjunction with the Prospect Park Zoo's operations, the WCS offers children's educational programs, is engaged in restoration of endangered species populations, runs a wildlife theater, and reaches out to the local community through volunteer programs.
Its precursor, the Menagerie, opened in 1890. The present facility first opened as a city zoo on July 3, 1935, and was part of a larger revitalization program of city parks, playgrounds and zoos initiated in 1934 by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. It was built, in large part, through Civil Works Administration and Works Project Administration (WPA) labor and funding.After 53 years of operation as a city zoo run by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Prospect Park Zoo, also colloquially known as "Brooklyn Zoo", closed on June 1988 for reconstruction. The closure signaled the start of a five-year, $37 million renovation program, that, save for the exteriors of the 1930s-era buildings, completely replaced the zoo. It was rededicated on October 5, 1993, as the Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Center, as part of a system of four zoos and one aquarium managed by the WCS, all of which are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).Queens Zoo
The Queens Zoo is an 18-acre (7.3 ha) zoo located in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, New York City. The zoo is part of an integrated system of four zoos and one aquarium managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).Ramsar site
A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.The Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO, which came into force in 1975. It provides for national action and international cooperation regarding the conservation of wetlands, and wise sustainable use of their resources.Ramsar identifies wetlands of international importance, especially those providing waterfowl habitat.
As of 2016, there were 2,231 Ramsar sites, protecting 214,936,005 hectares (531,118,440 acres), and 169 national governments are currently participating.Species translocation
Translocation in wildlife conservation is the capture, transport and release or introduction of species, habitats or other ecological material (such as soil) from one location to another. It contrasts with reintroduction, a term which is generally used to denote the introduction into the wild of species from captive stock.
Translocation is an effective management strategy and important topic in conservation biology. It decreases the risk of extinction by increasing the range of a species, augmenting the numbers in a critical population, or establishing new populations thus reducing the risk of extinction. This improves the level of biodiversity in the ecosystem.
Translocation may be expensive and is often subject to public scrutiny, particularly when the species involved is charismatic or perceived as dangerous (for example wolf reintroduction). Translocation as a tool is used to reduce the risk of a catastrophe to a species with a single population, to improve genetic heterogeneity of separated populations of a species, to aid the natural recovery of a species or re-establish a species where barriers might prevent it from doing so naturally. It is also used to move ecological features out of the way of development.
Several critically endangered plant species in the southwestern Western Australia have either been considered for translocation or trialled. Grevillea scapigera is one such case, threatened by rabbits, dieback and degraded habitat.Wildlife Conservation Act 1950
The Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 is an act of the Western Australian Parliament that provides the statute relating to conservation and legal protection of flora and fauna. It was replaced by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 on 3 December 2016 due to the inability for the Act to meet the requirements for modern conservation standards. However, the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 is still listed as Current and has not yet been repealed.
The Act is supplemented periodically by Notices, which are lists of species subject to protection under the Act, e.g. the Wildlife Conservation (Specially Protected Fauna) Notice 2008(2). The lists are arranged in Schedules according to level of vulnerability. Schedule 1 is "Fauna that is rare or is likely to become extinct" or "Extant [flora] taxa"; Schedule 2 is "Fauna presumed to be extinct" or [Flora] "Taxa presumed to be extinct".Wildlife Conservation Society
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) was founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) and currently works to conserve more than two million square miles of wild places around the world. The organization is led by President and CEO Cristián Samper, former Director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Based at the Bronx Zoo, WCS maintains approximately 500 field conservation projects in 65 countries, with 200 PhD scientists on staff. It manages four New York City wildlife parks in addition to the Bronx Zoo: the Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo. Together these parks receive 4 million visitors per year. All of the New York City facilities are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).Wildlife Institute of India
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change, Government of India. established in May 1982.
WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Ecodevelopment, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change. WII has a research facility which includes Forensics, Remote Sensing and GIS, Laboratory, Herbarium, and an Electronic Library. The founder director was V. B. Saharia while the first Director was Hemendra Singh Panwar who remained the director from 1985 to 1994. Trained personnel from WII have contributed in studying and protecting wildlife in India. WII has also popularized wildlife studies and careers.
The institute is based in Dehradun, India. It is located in Chandrabani, which is close to the southern forests of Dehradun.The campus is 180 acre's, from which 100 acre's is wilderness and 80 acre's is of institutionWildlife management
Wildlife management attempts to balance the needs of wildlife with the needs of people using the best available science. Wildlife management can include game keeping, wildlife conservation and pest control. Wildlife management draws on disciplines such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, ecology, climatology and geography to gain the best results.Wildlife conservation aims to halt the loss in the Earth's biodiversity by taking into consideration ecological principles such as carrying capacity, disturbance and succession and environmental conditions such as physical geography, pedology and hydrology with the aim of balancing the needs of wildlife with the needs of people. Most wildlife biologists are concerned with the preservation and improvement of habitats although rewilding is increasingly being used. Techniques can include reforestation, pest control, nitrification and denitrification, irrigation, coppicing and hedge laying.
Game keeping is the management or control of wildlife for the well being of game and may include killing other animals which share the same niche or predators to maintain a high population of the more profitable species, such as pheasants introduced into woodland. In his 1933 book Game Management, Aldo Leopold, one of the pioneers of wildlife management as a science, defined it as "the art of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use".
Pest control is the control of real or perceived pests and can be used for the benefit of wildlife, farmers, game keepers or safety reasons. In the United States, wildlife management practices are often implemented by a governmental agency to uphold a law, such as the Endangered Species Act.
In the United Kingdom, wildlife management undertaken by several organizations including government bodies such as the Forestry Commission, Charities such as the RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts and privately hired gamekeepers and contractors. Legislation has also been passed to protect wildlife such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The UK government also give farmers subsidies through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme to improve the conservation value of their farms.
Zoos, aquariums and aviaries
|Types of zoos|