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THE HIT LIST

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An eighth of the world’s species are nearing extinction. Over one million species are endangered or at risk of extinction over the next three decades. Since the earth cooled and started hosting life, this is by far the largest mass extinction event to be caused by the actions of one species. Yes, we are in the middle of an extinction event. And yes, we are the primary reason it is happening. We have lost more than 50% of the world’s wildlife in the last fifty years. Humanity is a scourge that causes massive disruptions in the balance of life on the planet. With our knowledge, we are endangering not only the ‘less intelligent’ species, but also ourselves in the process.                

All life is interconnected on earth. The extinction of even the most minute of species endangers other’s chances of survival. At present, butterflies, especially monarchs and bees are at risk. The two insects, along with birds are essential for the process of pollination in plants. Their extinction puts our ability to produce food in jeopardy. Without these agents of pollination, it will be extremely difficult to practice agriculture.. The main causes endangering these species, climate change and habitat loss, can be traced back to human activity. It is time we started thinking more seriously about the birds and the bees.

Mountain Gorillas, a species so close to home and so close to humans also features on what will one day look like a global hit list. Orangutans, another species of primates so genetically close to humans are also finding the new human world too tough for survival. Their numbers have declined by more than eighty percent in the last one century alone. The remnant is increasingly under pressure due to loss of habitat among other factors. Again, the causes for the near extinction of these almost humanoid species is human based.

Vultures have for ages been the reliable waste disposal managers of the wild. However, they have not  been spared the human sponsored onslaught that is threatening to wipe out an eighth, maybe more of the world’s life. Of the sixteen species of vultures found in Africa, seven are critically endangered. Vultures are critical in disease control and waste disposal in the wild.  They are essential in maintaining a healthy ecological system. Vultures are among the most important scavengers in Africa and they are believed to consume even more carrion than mammalian scavengers including hyenas. Their efficient disposal of animal carcasses mitigates the spread of diseases through flies and bacteria. It is evident that the extinction of vultures will pose a great hazard to healthy life. Again, the extinction of vulture species is attributable to human activity.

The list of endangered species touches almost all forms of life on earth. Humanity’s disregard for the environment has continued to put millions of animals around the globe in a losing fight for survival. From the readily recognizable and iconic species like the rhino, to the obscure cute little frogs. From land giants like the elephant to microscopic plankton, we have spared no effort in spreading the destruction of our planet’s diversity. Even animals which we barely knew existed just thirty years ago like the Saola are not safe from our destructive purge. During the greatest age of humanity’s advancement in technology, we have placed a noose on our necks, and we are tightening it every day.  

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