Preserving Species Under Threat

#TRVSTLOVES - Preserving Species Under Threat

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas, and inspiration from across the world that demonstrate how real action can accomplish a positive social impact. This time we’re looking at some positive stories which show efforts to preserve species under threat of extinction. 

Antelope Saiga population on the increase again

Antelope Saiga
Photo Credit: Andrey Giljov (CC BY-SA 4.0)

We came across this story in the news recently: the critically endangered antelope saiga population has more than doubled since 2019. Due to a sudden die-off in 2015, this Kazakhstan species was almost completely extinct, so this turnaround is great to read about. A number of measures have helped with the rebound, including a crackdown on poaching and essential conservation work. 

But what caused so many antelope saigas to die in just one particular year? As it turns out, it was just three particular weeks where “more than 200,000 saigas died, or about 60% of the global population”, which is pretty shocking.

After, it was found that a bacteria causing blood poisoning and internal bleeding was the culprit, and studies show that unusually hot and humid weather helped play a role, so climate change was very much a factor.

The fact that the population is now returning is great news, but as the effects of climate change continue, there will need to be a huge effort to maintain some of these endangered species.

Kenya starts its first wildlife census

Photo by sutirta budiman on Unsplash

In May this year, Kenya began its first national wildlife census to help with conservation efforts and identify threats. Currently, a lot of the information is unknown, which makes it very difficult to monitor levels and any decline of a particular species, including pangolins and the Sable antelope.

The $2.3m initiative is funded by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), which has a vision “[to] save the last great species and places on earth for humanity,” so we hope that this census will provide some much-needed data. 

At the moment, around 8% of Kenya’s land is protected for wildlife conservation via a number of parks and reserves. As part of a KWS branding program, each area is given a unique identity to help improve public perception, increase revenue, enhance corporate image and increase visitations. For example, in 2006, Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park was branded as “Home of the Dolphin and Coconut Crab.” We think this is a really inspiring way to raise awareness of specific areas and will help to educate people in a more inspiring way.

A hidden population of whales discovered

Photo by Bart van meele on Unsplash

It’s nice to see some positive news when we’re talking about endangered animals, and this story is no exception. While it may sound like a plot to a film, a hidden population of endangered whales has just been discovered by nuclear bomb detectors. Found in the Indian Ocean, it was the pygmy blue whales’ song that actually alerted the nuclear bomb detector, leading scientists to believe that a fifth population of whales existed (previously, only four had been identified).

It’s thought that there are less than 400 individual North Atlantic right whales left now, so any new discovery like this is really great news. Sadly commercial whaling has decimated numbers in the 20th century and continues to take place in some parts of the world today. 

Plastic pollution does not help the situation either. WWF refers to a recent study where plastic bags and packaging dumped in the oceans and seas are responsible for the largest proportion of marine life deaths.

Plastic pollution facts like these aren’t an easy read, and so organizations like Friends of the Ocean are more critical than ever when it comes to facing some of these challenges. With over 65 ocean leaders from business, civil society, international organizations, science, and technology, they aim to provide fast-tracked solutions based on a number of key impact pillars, which are well worth a read.

California Condor chicks hatch at Oregon Zoo

Another rather lovely story in the news recently is that a record number of California Condor chicks hatched at Oregon Zoo this spring (check out the video of them, too!). California Condors are critically endangered; by 1982, there were just 22 condors left in the wild, so a recovery program was put in place to protect them and breed them in captivity. In 1992 they were released back into the wild for the first time, but today their population still remains under threat as they are vulnerable to lead poisoning (they feed off dead animals, which have often been shot dead by poachers). 

Captive breeding is now an essential practice to preserve endangered species. Studies from captive-breeding programs across the world found that “the majority of 118 captive-bred mammal populations increased”. So while humans are often the cause of many of these issues in the first place, they now must play a role in protecting these fragile species under threat of extinction.

New pair of Hainan Gibbons discovered

Hope rises for endangered Hainan Gibbons after the union of a new pair. Hainan Gibbons are a highly endangered species of ape that can be found on the tropical islands of Hainan in the South China Sea. Their population stats are pretty appalling; in the 1950s, there were around 2000 Hainan Gibbons, but due to poaching and loss of habitat, there were less than ten left by the 1970s. 

KFBG and the local community have undertaken a number of conservation strategies, including planting around 80,000 seedlings from 51 native tree species (which are frequently eaten by the Hainan Gibbons), monitoring the population, and sponsoring researchers to study them. Their efforts are making a difference as new families of the species are beginning to emerge, and this new pairing is particularly important as it signals “the largest family group recorded for the species in about 40 years”.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hainan Gibbons, then ten amazing facts will certainly help. Through the vital research mentioned above, we can understand more about which species are endangered (even the ugly animals) and, most importantly, tell us more about what they need to survive.

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