Zoology

Determining Priority in the Prevention of Animal Extinction



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There are many reasons for animal extinction. Some of them are natural and some of them are man-made. Identifying causes for extinction may help in the decision-making process when deciding whether or not to attempt to save a species. The idea that a choice should ever have to be made when it comes to a saving a species is horrifying to some people. The fact of the matter is that decisions like this one need to be made as species are dying off faster than they can be saved. Because the extinction of many animal species is created by mankind, it is ironically fitting that the decision to prioritize preservation attempts are also made by man.


Conservation International is an organization that attempts to increase the social awareness of species extinction and preserve ecosystems through a series of global initiatives such as reduction in pollution and the stabilization of greenhouse gasses. Their website claims that every 20 minutes another species will become extinct. A strong case for studying animal extinction is that if scientists can learn about a species and understand why it is going extinct before it does, it may help to understand the patterns that cause extinction and may help to prevent them in the future.


When determining which species to save first, researchers and conservation experts use a cost-benefit analysis and concentrate on areas of imminent extinction where the species that are highly threatened are confined to a singular site. About one-third of these areas are legally protected and almost all of them are on the border of rapid human development. The rank in priority of a species is often looked at in terms of the overall effect on the habitat. In this way, the effects on the entire area as a result of the extinction of a species are taken into consideration so that the overall effects in the reduction of that extinction will provide the best benefit for the overall health of the habitat.


The selected areas are monitored to prevent or reduce any further damage to that particular habitat. Buffer zones are created around the newly protected areas to reduce the negative man made effects to that particular zone in the future. The vast majority of threatened areas are in developing countries. While some of the small scale conservation initiatives have been successful, there are often times greater economic benefits to developing countries that expand in those regions. Awareness of the ecological effects caused by species extinction is often outweighed by the personal priorities of mankind to improve an economic landscape versus an ecological habitat.

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