One final warning: five species that humanity has saved from extinction

One final warning: five species that humanity has saved from extinction
One final warning: five species that humanity has saved from extinction

On March 30, the most massive environmental action in the world will take place - Earth Hour, a sign of concern for the future of the planet. But humanity is capable not only of symbolic, but also of concrete steps that bring real results - for example, stopping the extinction of species.

Amur tiger
Amur tiger

The fittest survives - this is how Charles Darwin formulated the main principle of natural selection. Not the strongest, but precisely the one who skillfully knows how to adapt to the environment, only not all animals are able to adapt to the aggressive intervention of people.

Habitat destruction and poaching lead to the fact that many species disappear forever or are on the verge of extinction: for example, according to experts of the Discovery Channel documentary "Save the Tiger", which will be released on March 31 at 20:00, over the past hundred years, the total population of tigers in the world has decreased 25 times, from 100,000 to 4,000 individuals.

Three subspecies of these animals have been completely exterminated, and the remaining six are in an extremely vulnerable position. However, sometimes people still manage to turn a critical situation at the last moment. Let's talk about the species that activists managed to save from extinction. Australian miracle: koala

Koalas are one of the symbols of Australia: these funny marsupials can rival kangaroos in popularity. According to the Australian Koala Foundation, today there are less than a hundred thousand individuals left in the wild: as early as 2012, the government officially declared koalas a vulnerable species in the states of New South Wales and Queensland.

However, these figures cannot be compared with the critical rate of extinction of koalas, which was observed several centuries ago.

Koalas almost never had natural enemies - only occasionally they were attacked by dingo dogs - therefore, before the arrival of Europeans on the continent, the main reason for the mass death of koalas was only epizootics - infectious diseases that were widespread among the population (cystitis, periostitis of the skull, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, pneumonia).

Of course, the natives also hunted these animals, but within reasonable limits - their hunting did not threaten the status of the species. Everything changed after the transformation of Australia into a British colony: from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century, the extermination of koalas was not limited in any way, and in 1924 alone, more than 2 million animals were killed.

Slow and trusting of people, koalas were very easy prey for hunters for their thick fur: it was in demand as a material for rugs, linings, muffs and for finishing women's clothing.

Frank William Moorhouse, a Queensland marine biologist and chief inspector of the South Australian Department of Fisheries and Fisheries, noted in 1934 that there were only 500-1000 koalas left - and this despite the fact that the legal ban on hunting was issued in 1927.

The public outcry against this massacre was one of the first environmental initiatives to rally the population. A large-scale state program for the resettlement and rehabilitation of koalas was initiated, the habitat of which was destroyed or significantly reduced: animals were transported to new regions, adapted in order to subsequently return them to their former habitat.

So, by 1944, about 1,300 animals had been released from Quale Island to the mainland regions, and the practice of relocating koalas became common. By the 2000s, it was possible to completely stop the extinction of these animals on the continent, which until then went on at an alarming rate.

China also has its own national emblem from the world of fauna: the bamboo bear, commonly known as the giant panda. Black and white fat men are indisputably the favorites of the nation, and a death sentence may even be imposed for killing a panda.

But this was not always the case. Since ancient times, the panda has been an object of hunting - its beautiful and thick fur was too much appreciated. The population explosion in China after 1949 caused the habitat of these animals to decline, and the ensuing famine launched a new wave of large-scale hunting for wild animals, including pandas.

Following the Chinese economic reform, the demand for panda skins from Hong Kong and Japan led to illegal poaching on the black market, and local officials tended to turn a blind eye to this at the time.

In addition to the anthropogenic factor, the sharp decline in the panda population was also influenced by their lifestyle: these animals very rarely bring offspring (once a year or two), and only the first cub is nursed.

In nature, such reproduction allows you to avoid competition for food, however, coupled with the aggressive advance of civilization, this almost led to the extinction of the entire species. To stop the process, the government of the PRC created the Wolong National Reserve in 1958, but due to a lack of experience and knowledge about ecology, significant success was not achieved.

Many believed that the best way to save the pandas was to put them in a cage. As a result, the animals were kept in captivity in completely inappropriate conditions, because of which they experienced even more stress.

This changed in the 1990s when laws were passed to control the use of firearms and to relocate local residents away from nature reserves.

In addition, the hunting ban continued and active reforestation continued - thanks to these efforts and improved conservation methods, wild pandas began to grow in population. In 2006, there were 40 panda sanctuaries in China, while in 1998 there were only 13.

Although pandas were reclassified from endangered to vulnerable in 2016, there are currently no more than 2,500 pandas, so China's State Forestry Administration has announced that it will not abandon a full-scale government campaign to conserve these animals. The symbol of Russia: the Amur tiger

Despite strong stereotypes, not only the bear, but also the tiger can be called the animal mascot of our country, largely because Primorye is home to one of the last natural foci of the Amur tiger.

This is not only the northernmost, but also the largest representative of its subspecies, although in terms of population it is noticeably inferior to the Bengal ones - there are from 2500 to 3000 thousand, and there are only 540 Amur individuals left.

Head of the Rare Species Conservation Department of the Amur Branch of WWF-Russia Pavel Fomenko, the protagonist of the project Discovery Channel "Save the Tiger", explained that such a critical decrease in the number of animals in the wild is primarily due to poaching, which became especially catastrophic in the 1990s due to the extremely difficult and unstable economic situation in the country.

Moreover, not only skins were sold on the black market, but also claws, fangs and internal organs of animals: they are traditionally used in Chinese traditional medicine.

Active countermeasures began to be implemented in 1996, after the Amur tiger was listed in the Red Book of Russia. Large-scale programs for the comprehensive study of animals, their conservation and increase in their habitat have led to the stabilization of the population.

In 2010, the National Strategy for the Conservation of the Amur Tiger was approved, within the framework of which a special Fund, the Amur Tiger Center, appeared in 2013, and in 2015, the Bikin Far East Nature Reserve was opened.

In national parks, tigers have been created as close to natural living conditions as possible, and specialists not only track the movements of predators using camera traps, but also save them from poachers, vaccinate and treat sick individuals, and help them adapt.

At the same time, laws against poachers have been tightened - killing a tiger has become a criminal offense for which there is a risk of imprisonment. Such a set of measures made it possible to stop the extinction of the subspecies - and even increase the population.

The population also supports the initiative: there are several public organizations working in the Far East - these are people who have devoted more than one year of their lives to the protection of tigers. There is also a Large Predator Conflict Prevention Team, which helps resolve the thorny issues that arise when a tiger gets too close to an apartment building.

Internet users can also support the Amur tigers: WWF and the Discovery Channel have launched a social campaign in support of the Amur tigers: it is aimed at drawing public attention to the problem of a critical reduction in the population of these predators.

Everyone who is not indifferent can help save the tiger by donating any amount on the Project C. A. T. This is a global initiative of Discovery, Inc. and WWF, which aims to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, in which Discovery has already invested in the conservation of 2 million acres (about 800 thousand hectares) of land in India and Bhutan.

Huge, weighing two and a half tons, the second largest animal in Asia after the elephant - the Indian rhinoceros was widespread throughout South and Southeast Asia, in the south of China and in eastern Iran several centuries ago - there are even mentions of hunting for rhino in Afghanistan.

Today, there are no more than 2,500 individuals left, which live only in southern Pakistan, East India and Nepal, and are probably also represented in small numbers in northern Bangladesh. As with virtually all endangered - or already extinct - species, this population decline is associated with large-scale commercial extermination of animals and the reduction of their natural habitat.

The question of the survival of the species became especially acute in the 20th century, when well-armed European hunters appeared in the region, who, among other things, widely distributed firearms among the local population.

The hunters aimed to get primarily the horn of the animal: firstly, it was in demand in traditional medicine, since it allegedly had healing properties, and secondly, the handles for daggers made of horn were in incredible demand.

The demographic explosion in Asian countries and the clearing of the jungle were superimposed on this process. To give the Indian rhino a chance to survive, activists took almost the entire population under special control: almost all representatives of the species live today in strictly protected areas - there are almost none of them in the wild.

Most of these rhinos are concentrated in the Kaziranga National Park in India - about 1600 individuals live there, about six hundred are kept in Chitwan Park in Nepal and 300 - in the famous Pakistani Lal Suhantra Nature Reserve.

Despite the fact that in such favorable conditions the population of Indian rhinos is gradually increasing, the animals are listed as a vulnerable species in the International Red Book.

The bison is considered one of the heaviest land mammals in Europe: several centuries ago there were individuals weighing more than a ton, but over time they were slightly crushed - the average bison today weighs about 850 kilograms.

The population of these animals also greatly decreased: formerly, powerful and strong bison inhabited Western, Central and Southeastern Europe, and their natural habitat was deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests of the temperate zone.

The bison were revered and protected, they were depicted on coats of arms and other heraldic symbols, they were even dedicated works of art: for example, Nikolai Gusovsky's poem "The Song of the Power, Wildness of the Bison and the Hunt for It", written in 1522, was widely known.

However, bison, like many other species that lived in close proximity to humans, fell victim to the aggressive offensive of civilization: poaching, destruction of forests and large-scale military operations that swept Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, led to the fact that by the 1920s bison are endangered.

The greatest blow to the population was inflicted by the First World War and the years of devastation after it. All wild Caucasian and lowland bison have completely disappeared: the last representative of the lowland line was killed in 1921 in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

The global initiative of the Polish zoologist Jan Stolzman helped to save the animals: in 1923, the International Society for the Conservation of Bison was founded. A large-scale project was implemented to restore the wild population from individuals living in captivity - by that time, only a few dozen animals remained in zoos and private estates.

They also created a special herd book, where each individual was entered, to which an individual number was assigned - it was much easier to keep track of the population. Thanks to these efforts, in 1952 the first free herds were re-settled in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Today, it is believed that the first stage of conservation of the bison has been successfully completed: despite the status of a vulnerable species according to the classification of the Red Book, there are currently about 6,000 individuals in the world.

All of them were grown according to unique animal protection programs and reintroduced in Poland, Spain, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine, Slovakia and Germany. Many individuals were brought to these countries from Russia, where the largest population of bison is represented.

See the project "Save the tiger" March 31 at 20:00 for Discovery Channel!

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