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Critically Threatened Animals: Humans behind Critically Threatened Status
With the death of a Yangtze turtle in China, issues arise over the involvement of humans
The Yangtze turtle, Credit, New York Times
One of the last known Yangtze softshell turtle died a few weeks ago in China at the Suzhou Zoo, leaving the species on the brink of extinction, as only two known Yangtze turtle still survive, both living in the wild in Vietnam and of unknown gender.
The last known Javan rhinos still exist in Indonesia, but their population suffers a great decline, leaving the species on the brink of extinction, as only 60 of the animal remain, even though Indonesian authorities give more promising figures.
The last known white antelopes remain in the Sahara Desert in Chad, their population having plunged to as low as three in the wild by 2016, with the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) describing the species as critically endangered, in spite of the fact that two thousand of them remain in zoos around the world.
These three animals form the tip of the iceberg of the last known species of animals on the brink of extinction, a group containing Amur leopards, the Yangtze orangutan, the Eastern and Western gorilla, the saola, the vaquita, the Sunda tiger, and others.
First discovered in 1873, the massive Yangtze turtle once swam in the equally massive Yangtze River, but due to human pollution of the river, its population plummeted, the animal becoming part of the 61 percent of turtles threatened with extinction around the world, from a total of 356 turtles recognized as of 2017.
First thought to be extinct, the Javan rhino roamed the wild in southeast Asia, but the horn of each sold for upwards of $30,000, encouraging poachers to pounce on the animal in an orgy of greed and violence, leaving just eight of the animal in existence by 2007.
First described scientifically by Henri de Bianville in 1816, the white antelope, also known as addax, roamed the sands of the Sahara Desert, forming herds of five to 20 members, but with human activities such as the installations operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation and the extensive poaching by many, the white antelope becomes a candidate for extinction in the wild, with just three remaining in its natural habitat.
The Yangtze turtle, the Javan rhino, and the white antelope roamed their habitats in the past, but humans ensured their current critically endangered status, through the pollution of the Yangtze River, the poaching in the wetlands of southeast Asia, and the oil exploration in the Sahara Desert.
Apart from pollution, humans ensured the critically endangered status of the Yangtze turtle over the creature’s ability to lay more than 30 eggs in a clutch, a characteristic attractive to lots of people, making them to kill the animals to satisfy their own culinary peculiarity.
Humans ensured the critically endangered status of the Javan rhinos through deforestation, with Java having lost 2,500 hectares per year from 2003 to 2006, only 10,000 hectares of forest predicted to remain in this setting in the very near future.
Humans ensured the critically endangered status of the white antelope through military men from Niger republic, who used the opportunity provided by the operations of the China National Petroleum Corporation to shoot the animals for sport and meat, in violation of Nigerien laws.
Humans always ensure the extinction of animals, either through shooting them for sport or meat in violation of extant laws, or through deforestation and exploitation of their body parts due to greedy reasons, which is why the Yangtze turtles, the Javan rhino, and white antelopes could find themselves extinct by the end of the year.
For the small vertebrates and invertebrates in China and other places, the extinction of the Yangtze turtle upsets their existence, because no predator remains to regulate their own population, as the turtle played an important role in ensuring balance existed in the ecosystem.
For humans, the diminishing population of Javan rhinos also upsets people's existence, because rhinos can consume over 120 pounds of vegetation and then disperse seeds at great distances in 50 pounds of dung, but with their decimation, the ability of forests to house more biodiversity and sequester carbon become affected.
For humans, the decline in the number of white antelopes also upsets existence, because the biodiversity in the habitat of the endangered animal no longer shows promise, as it can no longer help other animals in the ecosystem to weather the effects of things like extinction cascade created by the loss of species.
These extinction scenarios upset small vertebrates, humans, and others, because the predators' ability to regulate the population shows decline, the ability of the forest to sequester carbon shows reduction, and the ability of animals to weather effects of extinction cascades lessens, rendering all to be vulnerable at a period of climate change.
The situation with the turtles could be improved through partnership with Chinese and Vietnamese government on the two individuals of the turtle species known to be in the wild. As for the Javan rhinos, the situation could be improved through science-based habitat management. And in the case of white antelopes, the situation could be improved through leadership and guidance from the state and local communities, including transboundary cooperation between Niger and Chad. With partners working with local communities through science-based approaches, the situation with the Javan rhinos, white antelopes, and Yangtze turtles could be improved, as well as the fortunes of countless creatures on the brink of extinction.
What to Eat
Chadian vegan diet, Credit, Internationalcusine.com