Last year, tiger poaching in India jumped to its highest levels in 15 years. The spike was the result of killings by gangs of poachers, tigers being snared by locals trying to trap other animals for food, and by cutbacks in anti-poaching efforts because of budget cuts.
A new study has revealed that the global population of the world’s fastest land animal – the cheetah – is down to only 7,100, a drop of 50% over the past 40 years. The dramatic decline in cheetah population could soon lead to the extinction of the species unless urgent conservation efforts are made.
It is widely thought that we are in the midst of the 6th great mass extinction of species on Earth and, unlike the previous ones that were caused by things like asteroid impacts or ice ages, this one is caused by us. Our impact on the climate, on natural resources, on landscapes and habitats, and more, has wreaked havoc on ecosystems across the globe.
Back in June, we reported that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature was reassessing the giant panda’s status as an endangered species. Well, in an update of the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species in September, the giant panda was indeed downgraded to “vulnerable.”
A recent study has identified the steep decline of more than 300 species of mammals as a result of unregulated or illegal hunting. Humans are consuming many of the world’s wild mammals to the point of extinction.
Snow leopards are majestic animals native to Central Asia. They roam the region’s rugged terrain, from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan and Russia in the north, and to India and China in the east. Snow leopards are known for their thick white coat of fur with ringed black and brown spots. These markings help camouflage the animals from their prey. But the camouflage does little to protect snow leopards from one of their biggest threats: humans.
Poaching and illegal trafficking in exotic animals is a world-wide problem that most of us are aware of. What most of us are less aware of is that the most trafficked mammal in the world is the pangolin, which you may well have never even heard of.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 500,000 rhinos across Africa and Asia. By 1970, the number was down to 70,000. Today, there are less than 30,000 rhinos in the wild. The number of black rhinos dropped to as low as 2,300 in 1993. Aggressive conservation efforts have brought their numbers up to over 5,000 today.
Giant pandas are among the most beloved animals in the world and are the iconic symbol of China as well as of the World Wildlife Fund, the global NGO dedicated to wildlife conservation. In the mid 1990s, the population of wild pandas dropped to as low as 1,000 as a result of habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and an intrinsically low birth rate. There is also illegal poaching despite severe penalties. Pandas have been considered to be an endangered species for quite some time.
The number of African rhinos poached in 2015 set a new record, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Some 1,338 were killed, which is the highest level since the current poaching crisis began in 2008. Since that time, nearly 6,000 African rhinos have been killed.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, hunters legally kill tens of millions of animals every year. But hunters also illegally kill just as many animals – if not more – often either on closed lands or out of season. Few perpetrators of this deadly crime against wildlife are ever caught or punished.
Ecotourism is increasing on a global scale. Ecotourism is generally defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education. Visitor numbers to many protected areas around the world are expanding every year. Ecotourism provides rich experiences for the traveler and often has great benefits to local communities fighting poverty and seeking sustainable development.