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The word “extinction” refers to the sudden end of a living organism (or species). According to Hallam (27), scientists argue that many species will become extinct in the next 1000 years. Extinction is a major challenge because it can affect any species or group of organisms. It would be necessary for human beings to understand the major causes of extinction.
This understanding will encourage people to conserve the environment and eventually reduce the major causes of extinction. For very many years, ecologists and biologists have argued that the main cause of extinction is the animals’ inability to cope with the changing environmental conditions and increasing competition from other organisms.
However, the outstanding fact is that human actions such as pollution, destruction of habitats, and poaching (among others) are the three leading causes of animal extinction. This paper examines the leading causes of extinction.
How Do Animals Become Extinct?
History shows that many animal species have become extinct without chances of reappearance. Scientists have conducted numerous studies and researches to understand how (and why) animals become extinct. Human beings use different animals for food, wool, and transportation (McKenzie 58). In the recent past, man has realized that some animals such as elephants, leopards, snakes, and rhinos can give them a lot of money.
This fact explains why many animals are facing a major threat today. There are high chances of extinction today than ever before. This discussion shows clearly that competition from other animals cannot be the only reason why animals become extinct. That being the case, it would be necessary to explore all the reasons why animals become extinct.
Many people know that animals become extinct when they are unable to cope with competition in their environment. However, recent studies have indicated that a slight climatic change can affect many animal species. Modern studies show that human actions have contributed a lot to the current environmental degradation and climatic changes. Human beings have always emitted different types of greenhouses gases.
According to Chiras (35), these gases play a significant role in the current global temperatures. Such changes continue to affect the sustainability of the universe. This is a clear explanation that human actions have destroyed the universe. The argument that animals become extinct after they find it hard to cope with competition in their respective ecological zones is wrong (Hallam 29).
Animals can also become extinct because of increased pollution. Human beings are the leading sources of pollution. Human activities such as agriculture, mining, and transportation have contributed a lot to global pollution (Chiras, 59). Such activities are capable of emitting acidic gases, smoke, solid wastes, and toxic compounds. The ecosystem absorbs most of these toxic compounds thus affecting many animal species.
For instance, water pollution causes aquatic imbalances and death of species. Pollution also results in acidic rains. Acidic rains are capable of affecting both terrestrial and aquatic life (Chiras 38). The natural environment allows animals to live in a healthy environment. Increased pollution contaminates this environment thus causing death.
Animals also become extinct after their habitats undergo major destruction. Natural calamities or climatic changes can also destroy a habitat. The outstanding fact is that most of these natural calamities are rare. According to McKenzie (79), human activities play the biggest role in the loss of natural habitats. Human beings have always destroyed their surrounding environments to produce food or construct roads.
Human beings also destroy forests and bushes in search of minerals. Some other activities such as charcoal burning and construction are responsible for the current loss of forests. Most of these forests are natural habitats for different species. Many animal species die after man destroys their natural habitats.
Human beings have always cleared bushes and forests to construct airports and road networks. They have also destroyed forests to get raw materials for their industries. At the same time, human beings do not plant new trees after cutting down the existing ones.
This practice explains why deforestation is a major problem today (McKenzie 64). This discussion explains why human activities have been responsible for the loss of numerous habitats. As a result, more species have become extinct than ever before. That being the case, human beings should take the best measures to conserve these habitats.
This discussion will be incomplete without identifying poaching is another reason why animals become extinct. Poaching is one of the major challenges affecting many countries across the world (Hallam 48). Poaching has become a business because the world is in high demand for tusks, animal horns, and skins. Some animals such as elephants, snakes, and rhinos are under a serious threat from poachers.
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Modern poachers are using advanced technologies to kill more animals and make their businesses successful. Poaching is a dangerous endeavor because it can result in the loss of species if the government fails to take adequate measures.
There are other reasons explaining why certain animals become extinct. For example, hunting is a common practice known to reduce animal species within a short duration. Many people hunt for meat and other animal products. The long-term impacts of hunting are disastrous and can result in the loss of species. The other possible cause of extinction is overharvesting.
For example, overfishing can affect the breeding patterns of aquatic fishes and eventually result in extinction. Some people take some animals for their own benefits or profits (McKenzie 72).
Such a practice can result in excessive hunting or trapping of certain animals thus affecting their abilities to reproduce. Studies have also indicated that any attempt to introduce a new species in a certain region can result in cannibalism and eventually affect the success and survival of the existing animal species (Chiras 63).
The above discussion explains why human activities play a major role in the extinction of different animal species. As discussed earlier, the idea that many animal species become extinct after they are unable to compete with the other species in a given environment. Some human activities and practices such as habitat destruction, deforestation, and pollution will always affect animals indirectly.
The affected animal species finds it hard to cope with the new environmental conditions and eventually die from stress or poisoning. As Hallam (83) observes, poaching and hunting are dangerous practices capable of reducing the number of species in any given habitat.
That being the case, human beings should be responsible because they are the leading cause of animal extinction. It would also be appropriate for scholars and biologists to conduct more researches in order to explore some other possible causes of extinction. Such findings will make it easier for people to understand the causes of extinction and come up with better countermeasures to address the problem.
Chiras, Daniel. Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010. Print.
Hallam, Anthony. Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities: The Causes of Mass Extinctions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.
McKenzie, Paul. Extinction. New York: Anvil Publications, 2006. Print.