World Wildlife Day is celebrated in every year on March 3 and its theme this year (2020) is “Sustaining all life on Earth”. All animal and plant species have been considered as key components of the world’s biodiversity. Of these, numerous species are at an endangered stage. There are now 41,415 species on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Of these, 2,700 are so endangered that they are at risk of extinction. This includes both endangered animals and endangered plants.
Wildlife conservation involves protecting habitats to protect the plant and animal species that live there. The major threats to wildlife arise from threats to their habitat. Poaching, pollution, and climate change are also serious threats. The IUCN estimates that 27,000 species are critically endangered, but a 2019 UN report on biodiversity put this estimate even higher at a million species. It’s also being acknowledged that an increasing number of ecosystems on Earth containing endangered species are disappearing. To address these issues, there have been both national and international governmental efforts to preserve Earth’s wildlife.
The most effective way to conserve wildlife is to conserve the ecosystems in which the animals and plants live. It is also these ecosystems that provide us with clean air and clean water. The cutting down of forests has effects on the atmosphere, and also increases soil erosion and silts up rivers.
Wildlife consists of flora and fauna, i.e. plants, animals and microorganisms which are not domesticated by humans. Conservation is not just about preserving and protecting wild plants, animals, and their habitats; conservation of wildlife is the recognition of the importance of nature. Rivers, hills, forests, wetlands, oceans, and everything else in nature is the cradle of life. Habitats are made of all these natural features that provide favourable conditions for life to exist, reproduce, and thrive.
Pollution, land development, deforestation, and natural disasters are a few reasons why wildlife and the number of species are decreasing rapidly. When habitat is threatened or destroyed, the wildlife living in the habitat is threatened as well. When roads or buildings destroy the habitats of wild animals, they must move and find new places to survive, which brings them into conflict with humans.
Wildlife also has economic value for humans. Forest produce like food, medicine, timber, fibres, etc. are of economic value. Wildlife provides raw material for many industries. Wildlife tourism is increasingly considered to be one of the highest generators of revenue and foreign exchange for the national income. Wildlife tourism is a key part of many nations’ travel industry. It provides an opportunity to observe and study animal and plant life in its natural habitat. Eco- and animal-friendly tourism, safaris, and similar outdoor activities fall under the umbrella of wildlife tourism. Such tourism is an important part of the tourism industries in many African and South American countries, and also in Australia, India, Canada, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Maldives, among many. Wildlife tourism has experienced a dramatic growth in recent years worldwide and many elements of it are now being closely aligned to eco-tourism and sustainable tourism.
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