Human beings have been around a while. In the last hundred years, we haven’t been doing a great job protecting the rest of life on the planet. As the human population grows, more land is taken up to accommodate our needs and desires. Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of species decline and extinction among all animal species. But there is hope for the remainder of the animal kingdom.
There are many well-documented cases of humans intervening to save a species. One of the most popular cases is Dian Fossey’s Rwandan gorillas, thanks to the movie adaptation Gorillas in the Mist. Some gorilla bands now have human protectors, skilled trackers who carry guns to ward off poachers.
Another example is the Japanese red-crowned crane. Their numbers were fewer than 20 in 1924. From 1935 onward, they were brought back from the verge of extinction by the hands of local farmers. There is now thought to be more than 1300.
A more recent and obvious repopulation success story is the very symbol of the World Wildlife Fund. The giant panda. By the 1980s, deforestation and poaching had left only a few hundred alive. The world took notice, and the efforts over the last 40 years have proven themselves. There are now more than 1800 pandas in the wild.
In the early 2000s, there were less than 25 blue iguanas in the Cayman Islands. Conservation efforts, including breeding programs and federal land management policies, doubled down, and by 2012 there were 750. That number may now be more than 1000.
These success stories are, unfortunately, the minority. The majority of animal species that are dying off are the ones we don’t see. There is, however, a growing interest in protecting the remaining wildlife of our world. With the help of hard-hitting documentaries, more readily available conservation career paths, environmental activists, and political lobbyists, our animals will persevere through these uncertain times.