In the 17th century, people were not concerned about the extinction of species, because it didn’t affect them directly. Now, concern has risen and thus, almost 92 thousand species have been surveyed and over 25 thousand have been classified as vulnerable or endangered and threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Twelve thousand of the endangered species were animals consisting of vertebrates and invertebrates. Though extinction is a natural process, humans still have a great impact on the high rate of extinction. For thousands of years, humans have been bringing non-native, or invasive, species of plants and animals to new places, bringing along foreign diseases that native species may not be able to fight. Invasive species also disrupt delicate food chains, and provide extra competition within a habitat, with one species (usually the invasive one) eventually outcompeting the other. Overhunting and habitat destruction also threaten many species.
As of now, it is estimated that the rate of extinction is 100-1,000 times faster than the expected rate of natural extinction.The UN has done many things regarding the preservation of endangered species. In 2015, the UN met with many countries and passed the first resolution to form national measures and strengthen existing policies. UNEP led the national “Wild Of Life” campaign, to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade. Over one billion people campaigned and hundreds of countries implemented laws regarding wildlife trade. It was the most successful campaign in UNEP history.
In early 2002, the UN met with many different countries in Germany to discuss and pass the “Convention On Migratory Species”. It gave many migrating species much more protection than they had before. China has always supported animal rights, and has passed several laws regarding the protection of animals, yet enforcement has often been too lax to make a difference. The Chinese Wildlife Protection Law was enacted in 1989. The law stated that all illegal breeding, consumption, domestication, killing, etc. of endangered animals was banned in China. It would have been an impactful law, but it was never enforced on the people of China. In 2016, the Chinese government revised and implemented the law. In addition, the Chinese Government clarified a law in 2014 that had been passed many years ago, but again was never enforced. It stated that anyone who ate or sold the meat of endangered animals is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. In December of 2017, China banned all ivory trade throughout China, and closed all ivory carving factories. Before the ban, China was the largest ivory consumer in the world. The ban has saved thousands of endangered species, including the African and Asian Elephant. The Chinese government has even led campaigns around China to let the citizens know of the ban. For the first time, China is strictly enforcing a ban regarding endangered animals.
As one of the most developed countries in the world, China is becoming more urbanized each day, and deforestation has resulted in thousands of animals becoming extinct or endangered, due to the loss of their habitat. In China, over 400 native species are endangered, and some animals that used to be common, such as the South China Tiger, and the Yangtze River Dolphin have not been spotted in the past two decades. Also, the population of China’s national animal, the Giant Panda, is rapidly declining each day, mainly due to habitat loss and the low amount of available food. Hence, China set up the Giant Panda Protection Network in 2003, and though the population of pandas has increased, it is still believed to be under 2 thousand. Ultimately, illegal wildlife trade and poaching has always been a big problem in China. In order to save endangered species from extinction and to furthermore prevent other species from becoming endangered, countries must enforce strong laws to protect those species. Strict laws are essential to preserve wildlife and the shrinking amount of biodiversity in ecosystems. Without strong enforcement, laws become useless.
When keeping extinction rates low, governments must think about the species that should be protected, depending on what is endangered in those regions. This would outlaw the hunting of those species, and result in higher populations. There should also be exceptions, however, to those laws and should allow restricted hunting or captivity of endangered species for scientific research, conducted with a permit. China also believes that giving harsher punishments to those who have been found illegally hunting protected species will result in a potential offender to not commit the crime in the first place. Lastly, governments should also regulate the amount of habitats from being destroyed and educate the public about the importance of keeping environments viable. In light of the above, the the amount of species becoming extinct is rapidly increasing, and laws must be enforced swiftly and effectively, before this problem worsens.
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