Last Chance to See

We are living through what is referred to by many as the Anthropocene extinction.

Man’s activities, particularly destruction of habitat, is widely believed to be responsible to the loss of many species every year. In fact we simply don’t know how many species are being made extinct, but some estimates put it as high as many species every day !

If you didn’t get to see the Eastern Cougar, the Western Black Rhinoceros, the Pyrenean Ibex or Lonesome George, the world’s last Pinta Island Tortoise, anytime within the last ten years, then I’m afraid you’ve missed your chance. All are now extinct and gone.

You’ve probably still got a chance to catch the mountain gorilla (740 left), the Great Bamboo Lemur (60 to 160 left), the Blue-Throated Macaw (100 to 150 left) or  the Amur Leopard (19 to 26 left) if you don’t leave it too long.

Tragic and depressing as news of these critically endangered species are, no doubt many of us wonder what we can do to protect animals whose habitats are under threat far away.

Unfortunately the answer is probably not much – other than perhaps donating funds, where possible and raising awareness. Conservation and protecting biodiversity is something that has to be done locally. But we shouldn’t be so complacent about the biodiversity in our own backyard:

In the UK the Scottish Wildcat, the Red Squirrel, the Brown Hare and even the Hedgehog, are all considered to be under considerable threat.

Numerous societies and organisations would welcome you support, in campaigning to stop inappropriate development, protect habitat, support conservation measures and raise awareness, such as the Hare Preservation Trust, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, British Hedgehog Preservation Society, and the Westmoorland Squirrel Society.

We might not have been able to save the Chinese River Dolphin from our living room, but we might be able to save the Red Squirrel !

Photo from Wikicommons

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Palm Oil or Orangutans

Palm oil, extracted from the fruit of the oil palm tree, is an globally important component of a surprising number of processed foods – used in biscuits, margarine, sweets and chocolate, breakfast cereals, crisps, pizza, bread and all sorts of other products.

Indonesia is the largest palm oil producing nation, and unfortunately has a history of felling its ancient tropical forests in order to develop large palm oil monoculture plantations. Indonesia’s rainforests are some of the most ecologically diverse in the world, home to numerous wildlife, including the critically endangered orangutan.

In 2009 the film maker Patrick Rouxel independently produced the powerful film Green about the fate of a particular Indonesian orangutan, and the story of devastating deforestation and the associated trade in timber and palm oil.

He describes his witnessing of the large scale environmental destruction of Sumatra and Kalimantan as “overwhelmingly depressing” and argues that as consumers we are all part of this process.

Photo by from Wikicommons

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