Many variations of animals have suffered at the hands of human nature. Poaching, pesticides and deforestation are just the start of it. However, there is also a flip-side to the dark, terrifying man-made issues in the way of conservationists. These are teams of people that want to make a difference, to save species rather than kill them. After the constant bad news that has flooded us over the past year due to the pandemic, this list is something positive. These are ten species that have made it out of the other side, due to the hard work of individuals. We can work together globally to support their movement however by making changes in our lifestyles, to team together in halting climate change.
The Bald Eagle
The National Emblem of the United States of America single 1782. In 1963, this species was at an all-time-low, with only 417 mating pairs documented – it was touch and go as to whether they would survive. The were a number of reasons for their culling of numbers – they were a prime victim for hunting, entrapment for ‘protection’ of fishing areas, pesticides such as DDT. After 1972, the pesticide, seen as one of the largest factors in the death-rates, was banned. Following this, strict observations were made on the bird, conservation at the heart of the goal. The efforts were majorly successful, meaning that there are now 9,700 nesting pairs over 48 states in the US.
The Arabian Oryx
At the beginning of the 1970s, this species was assumed to be extinct, having vanished from all radars. The reasoning for this was due to a considerable rise in hunting and poaching, seemingly eradicating them from the planet. However, captive breeding programmes in zoos and private reserves managed to help us to clutch on to the last of these wonderful animals. Since then, conservationists have pushed hard with this project, encouraging the reproduction of the Arabian Oryx. There are now estimated to be around 1,200 in the wild and 6,000 to 7,000 in semi-captivity. This meant that the status changed from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’. Conservationists also hope that this will upgrade to ‘Near-threatened’ in the coming years.
The Gray Wolf
In the early 1900s, this animal was extremely threatened – almost extinct. The species was declared endangered in 1978 and a large effort was placed on conservation. In 1995-1996, fourteen Canadian grey wolves were taken into the Yellowstone Park, another seventeen followed the year after. This was a huge success, growing to a population of over 600 wolves at its current rate. The strict rules and conservation efforts mean that there are now over 2000 wolves in the lower 48 states of the US.
The Northern Elephant Seal
This species is the largest of the ‘true’ seals in the Northern Hemisphere. At their lowest population, it was estimates that only a group of between 100-1000 existed. The seals were hunted at extreme rate with their fur being re-purposed for coats and blubber used for oil-lamps and cosmetics. In the early 20th century, laws were introduced into the Mexican and US systems, meaning the species would become more protected. The conservation efforts back then meant that the species is now thriving, with around 150,000 in current populations.
The Humpback Whale
One of the biggest effects of climate change has been to sea-life. Plastic is surging through our oceans, temperatures are rising and food that is so important to species is harder than ever to source. Man-made issues such as the hunting of whales also had a huge effect. This was a particularly big issue in the early 1990s, when numbers dwindled to a staggeringly low figure of only 450 whales. Approximately 25,000 whales had been killed over a 12 year period. Congratulations are in order for conservationists once again though as numbers are now back to pre-hunting numbers with over 25,000 in population.
The White Rhino
This species is the second-largest land mammals on earth and they are within touching distance of extinction. However, scientists have repurposed the sperm of a deceased male rhino and the eggs from one of the last-two remaining females, to create a second chance. The total number of viable embryos now remains at five, giving them a fighting chance. This species has been hugely destroyed due to poaching but we know have hope that the expertise of scientists, can once again save a population from extinction.
The Black Footed Ferret
Presumed extinct, the black footed ferret remained undiscovered for many years… until 1981. A Wyoming rancher’s dog then found one and brought it home, much to the shock of his owner. Between 1985-1987, the population of this wild group were taken in, intended for a captive breeding programme. Conservationists wanted to repurpose the species, ready for re-populating the wild. The recovery efforts were extremely successful and it is now expected that there are around 300 in the population. The numbers are still low in relation to other species but the threats are now somewhat managed.
The Brown Bear
The largest threat of this stunning species is persecution and habitual destruction. The brown bear has been high on poachers lists’ for decades – sought after for their fur and meat. The expansion of human habitats, for the purposes of logging, road constructions and property development have also been factors in the dwindling of the brown bear population. The species has faced, and in some areas continue to face, local extinctions. For example, the Eurasian brown bear is expected to only have around 50 to 60 left in its population. Elsewhere, the conservation efforts have saved the whole the total species number reaching around the 110,000 mark in 2017.
The Peregrine Falcon
Similarly to the bald eagle, the Peregrine Falcon was largely culled due to the increased use of pesticides in the 1970s. DDT is a fat-soluble, meaning it was stored in their bodies. This not only killed many adult birds but also caused females to lay eggs that had shells of thin-walls, leading to breakage during incubation. After the pesticides were banned in North America, breeding programmes began. The breeding programmes led to over 4,000 young birds being released and in 1999, the Peregrine Falcon was removed from the endangered list.
The Giant Panda
An animal that we all know and love, ditsy and happy! They take pride as the logo for WWF but how did they escape extinction? 1990 was the first notable mention of The Giant Panda being classified as ‘endangered’ with their numbers dwindling to around 1,000 wild bears. The reason behind this was poaching and deforestation – man-made problems. Humans were, and still are, this animals biggest threat. Major programmes were implemented to save this species. The Chinese government vowed to conserve their habitats and breeding programmes have taken place globally. One notable factor of the increased population was a Panda called ‘Pan Pan’ who fathered 130 cubs – around 25% of all those in captivity.