World Endangered Species Day
Dozens of conservation organizations as well as the international community of zoos and aquariums are combining their efforts to celebrate this day; yet, when you think about it, should we be celebrating or rather, should we be alarmed? According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 30% of the 80,000 known and studied living species of the planet are threatened by extinction:
- Each day, dozens of species disappear even before they have been discovered, reports the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).
- In The Living Planet report of 2016, the World-Wide Fund for nature (WWF) confirms a decline of 58% in the vertebrae population between 1970 and 2012.
This means that, in less than 50 years, the planet has greatly deteriorated and our biodiversity has taken a high speed downward trend.
Nothing in this introduction gives us reason to celebrate … but let’s read on.
Our annual world growth is of 4 births per second. At this rate, it will take two planets to answer all the needs of Homo sapiens between now and the end of the century… Since the industrialization era, barely 200 years ago, we have gone from 1 to 7.5 billion humans. The main threats to biodiversity are directly related to human activity. An increasing number of humans means more fields are cleared for agriculture, there are more transportation needs and more wood and fossil fuel consumption… For animals and their habitats this is synonymous with deforestation, pollution, poaching, humans/fauna conflicts and, of course, a radical change for the Earth’s climate.
All these threats and changes upset our ecosystem and we don’t know what the future holds for us. Humans, in the end will become victims themselves, of all these changes. So, what can be done? Do we celebrate or do we become alarmed on this World Endangered Species Day? As a conservation biologist, I prefer to remain optimistic and celebrate the day. Why?
- Because in 2016, more than 215 zoo institutions in America, counting Zoo de Granby, have invested almost $300 M in 127 countries in order to protect 231 endangered species.
- Because hundreds of NGOs work together in synergy for the preservation of nature.
- Because some governments have understood the need for watching over future generations as well as the importance of all the ecological services nature offers us (air and water quality, ecotourism, pollination, medical research, food resources…).
- Because my neighbours and friends have formed citizen groups bringing awareness with our elected officials for the urgency of taking action.
When you come to Zoo de Granby, the money you spend is in fact an investment for our nature protection endeavours. By doing so, you become our partner in our initiatives for conservation! The Zoo also works outside its establishment for the preservation of the Boisés-Miner in Granby, for the Eastern softshell spiny turtle of Lake Champlain, for the chimney swift in the Mauricie region, for Quebec’s bat population, for the fight against the poaching of elephants and gorillas in Cameroun, etc.
This World Endangered Species Day, it’s your turn to act! You can do your part by sharing this message or planting a tree, by writing to your elected officials or by walking for the cause. Indeed, it’s time for us to start celebrating our optimism and hope. We have only to think of Przewalski’s horse, the Vancouver Island marmot, the American black-footed ferret, the California condor and so many other species that were saved from extinction thanks to the good work accomplished by hundreds of zoos and aquariums located throughout all the continents and to the 700 M citizens who visit them every year.
Director, Conservation and Research
Zoo de Granby