Every living species follow a natural cycle of extinction and everyday species around the world are going extinct.
Whenever some species go extinct, many more earn the endangered tag and face similar threats of extinction that happens from loss of habitat, human activities, poaching, and climate change.
The threats for some species are so high that these are counting its days before it vanishes from the planet without a trace. This rings alarm bells for humans too because of the ecological imbalance that results from the extinction of species which can affect human lives in many different ways.
Although the extinction of animal species is nothing new because it is part of the natural process of evolution, the extinction rate has increased several times as the humans have kept multiplying.
Both humans and the endangered species share the ecosystem for its survival which is the reason why humans must try to reduce the pace of extinction of other species. Proper conservation of the species that appear in the list of animals included in the Red List of Threatened Species of the IUCN (International Union of Conservation) is now a priority.
The list provides a complete inventory of the status of conservation of globally endangered species. The list classifies the threat of extinction into three different categories – vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered according to the risks of extinction that it faces.
Growing rate of extinction
Currently, we are experiencing the sixth mass extinction of animals, insects, and plants that began half billion years ago. Unfortunately, this is the worst phase that we are going through since the time the dinosaurs disappeared from the earth some 65 million years ago.
Nature follows its own pace of extinction known as the background rate that affects about one to five species every year, but the situation is far more menacing than we can imagine. Scientists have revealed that we are currently losing species at a stupendous rate that is higher than the background rate by 1,000 to 10,000 times.
Every day, dozens of species become extinct that upsets the ecosystem and could cost us dearly. If we are unable to control the maddening rate then by the mid-century 30 to 50 percent of all species could face extinction.
Depletion of species affects humans
Defying the natural laws of extinction that causes depletion of species at a rapid rate has an effect on human lives as experienced during the 19th century when the American Bison had to make an exit. The estimated population of 15 million Native Americans of the central plains depended on the animal that supported their nomadic lifestyle by providing food, fur, leather, and many other important items.
The bison population started declining fast as tribal hunters hunted most of the animals with firearms and as the United States government encouraged widespread slaughtering of bison herds there was only a few thousand bison left by the year 1890. The tribes that depended on the vanishing species had to move out to new places in search of food and then came a time when they faced with an existential crisis and had to depend on the government for survival.
In the case of lions, this apex species play a major role in controlling dominant herbivore species, that, if not regulated would multiply and out-compete other herbivore species, eventually leading to their extinction. Any disruption to the fragile African ecosystem could have a knock-on effects on humans on the continent.
Insects and birds that face extinction is a concern for humans
Human existence depends on all kinds of species like plants, insects and birds and not animals alone among which the common honeybee is most notable because it is now on the verge of extinction. Although humans are not responsible for it, entire populations of the insects simply vanished in an epidemic like problem named colony collapse disorder. Although the cause behind it remains unknown, it has severely affected plant pollination because 250,000 plant species depend on bees for pollination.
Bees are indispensable for farming and agriculture, and growers are now importing colonies to their fields so that they get improved yields of crops. If the problem persists, it could severely affect the production of cucumbers, almonds, and apples. Among the different food crops that humans rely upon, only 28 different crops do not need the assistance of bees while the majority of 87 crops heavily depend on pollinators.
Human health is at risk
Now let us look at the aspect of human health that relies on some species for protection from diseases and what can happen when such species come under the threat of extinction. These species create a buffer between pathogens and humans and its extinction can prove very dangerous.
Lyme disease results from parasites that the species common opossum can resist. However, the population of the common opossum is fast declining in the United States due to human development and some other factors. Although some other species have filled the void but these species are less resistant to the disease which has led to increased incidences of Lyme disease on humans in these regions. In just 20 years, there has been a 30% increase in Lyme disease. It has also come to light that the reductions in biodiversity in specific regions have links to Hantavirus and West Nile disease.
Animal extinction affects medical advancements
Medical research and discovery have to rely on different animal species, and the scare of extinction of some species will affect medical advancements. Scientists can find a cure for many human diseases by studying the bodily processes of some animals that are closely similar to humans. By carrying on experiments on these animals, scientists can indicate some cure that leads to new discoveries.
For example, the dart-poison frogs found in the rain forests produce toxins that provide valuable information about the behavioral pattern of alkaloids in living organisms. Bears are also the subject of studies by scientists to understand how they recycle blood toxins when hibernating that can point to possible solutions of kidney disorders. No one knows how valuable some species might be for medical research and its extinction can cause immense harm to humans.
It is for human interest that we must preserve species and bring back the endangered species from the brink of extinction by undertaking projects that not only protect the species but also helps these to grow.
Author Bio: Bella Lipscomb has been writing earnestly about matters related to biodiversity, animals and wildlife rescue programs and also solutions for stopping certain species from getting extinct. A self-motivated copy writer by profession, Bella has studied forest life and various kinds of wildlife species. She publishes her posts in her blogs and also in engaged in guest blogging on similar topics.