The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jeff Corwin Speaks Out About Devastation And Extinction Of Our Animals

Last update: December 6, 2009 - 5:06 PM

There is a holocaust happening. It is a global crisis.

Species are going extinct en masse.

Every 20 minutes, we lose an animal species. If this rate continues, by century's end, 50 percent of all living species will be gone. It is a phenomenon known as "the sixth extinction."

The fifth extinction took place 65 million years ago when a meteor smashed into the Earth, killing off the dinosaurs and many other species and opening the door for the rise of mammals. Currently, the sixth extinction is on track to dwarf the fifth.

What is to blame this time? The causes are many: overpopulation, loss of habitat, global warming, species exploitation (the black market for rare animal parts is the third-largest illegal trade in the world, outranked only by weapons and drugs).

The list goes on, but it all points to us.

Over the last 15 years, I have traveled the globe, and I have witnessed the grim carnage firsthand. In South Africa off the coast of Cape Horn lives one of the most feared predators of all -- the great white shark. Yet this awesome creature is powerless before the mindless killing spree that is decimating its species at the jaw-dropping rate of 100 million sharks a year. Many are captured so that their dorsal fins can be chopped off (for shark fin soup).

urther east, in Indonesia, I witnessed the mass destruction of rain forests to make way for palm oil plantations. The victims are the Sumatran elephant and orangutan. These beautiful creatures are on the brink of extinction as their habitats go up in smoke, further warming our planet in the process.

One day while swimming off the coast of Indonesia, I came across a river of refuse and raw sewage stretching for miles. These streams and islands of refuse now populate all our oceans; in the middle of the Pacific, there is an island of garbage the size of Texas. This floating pollution serves to choke off and kill sea turtles -- driving them closer to extinction.

It's important to understand that this is not just a race to save a handful of charismatic species -- animals to which we attach human-inspired values or characteristic -- the sea otter, polar bear, giant panda or gorilla. Our actions need to be just as swift and determined when it comes to the valley elderberry longhorn beetle or the pebbly-skinned Puerto Rican-crested toad or the black-footed ferret, whose fate is inextricably intertwined with that of the prairie dog.

Each species, no matter how big, small, friendly or vicious, plays an important and essential role in its ecosystem.

Meanwhile, around the planet there are massive die-offs of amphibians -- the canaries in our global coal mine. When frogs and other amphibians, which have existed for hundreds of millions of years, start to vanish, it is a sign that our natural world is in a state of peril. Bat and bee populations are also being decimated. Without bees, there will be no pollination, and without pollination, the predator that is decimating these other species -- humankind -- will also be headed toward its own extinction.

Yes, there is a certain irony there.

Is there hope? Yes. Because in every place I visited to witness the sixth extinction unfold, I met brave and selfless conservationists, biologists and wildlife scientists working hard to save species. These committed scientists bring great generosity and devotion to their respective efforts to stop the sixth extinction. But if we don't all rise to the cause and join them in action, they cannot succeed.

The hour is near, but it's not too late.

Jeff Corwin is the author of "100 Heartbeats," a book about the sixth extinction. He wrote this piece for the Los Angeles Times


No comments:

Post a Comment