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The African bush elephant, despite having few natural predators, is labeled as endangered. There is a distinct difference between an animal being endangered and vulnerable. When a species is endangered, their population is in serious decline with a strong risk of extinction in the near future. This may be due to factors such as pollution, deforestation, and hunting. However, vulnerable species are ones that face a risk of extinction, but not for many years. Their threats have intensified into a worrisome level as their population numbers decrease.Global biodiversity – the variety of life in the world – is important to maintain as it provides a number of benefits. It gives a greater chance of natural sustainability in the future as each species affects the ecosystem in one way or another. A healthier ecosystem would be able to withstand and recover from both natural and man-made disasters. It is important for biodiversity to be on a global scale as it would allow the Earth to be more aesthetically pleasing and make the ecosystems well-rounded. This would be beneficial for the generations following us as they would be more educated and not be having a bleak future.In the 1930s, it was estimated that the African elephant population was between 3 and 5 million in the wild. By the 1980s, around 100,000 elephants were being killed per year and about 80% of some herds were decimated causing the population to drop to 600,000 in total. This drastic change was due to the uncontrolled poaching and illegal ivory trafficking that plagued most African nations. Habitat loss for agriculture and infrastructure also cut down the number of elephants, leading to more contact with humans. This contact also meant conflict as elephants trampled farmers’ fields and sometimes got killed by humans in retaliation, further cutting down their population. Commercial logging, biofuel plantations, and mines have destroyed their habitats and made the elephants easier targets for poachers. Civil conflict and wars in parts of Africa also add to habitat loss and fragmentation. Since then, the African elephant population is less than 500,000. Tens of thousands of elephants are still being killed every year for their ivory tusks. The elephants’ range dropped from 3 million square miles in 1979 to 1 million in 2007. While the rate of population decline has slowed down, the elephants still face threats. It takes around 10-15 years for African elephants to reach sexual maturity and 22 months for their gestation period. More elephants are being killed faster than they are being born, so their population remains endangered. Their lack of food supply, clean water, poaching, and safe habitat are possible reasons why their numbers are continuing to fall.Fortunately, there have been conservation methods to raise the population. A ban on international trade in elephant products like ivory has been implemented since 1989, only permitting trade if it is carefully controlled for the species’ survival. Sports hunting is still allowed, but armed guards and rangers often patrol the reserves to discourage hunters. Organizations like Save the Elephants help track the precise locations of elephants using GPS and Google Earth in real time. This allows scientists to monitor the movements of the elephants and provides a safe migration route by building corridors and a highway underpass. These methods ensure that the elephants have a safe journey and allow them to coexist peacefully alongside humans.Recently, there has been a stabilization of population numbers. This is mainly due to them being harder to find by poachers as habitat fragmentation threatens their livelihood. China, one of the largest importers of ivory, has agreed to close their domestic ivory market in the near future. This has reduced the need for ivory in Africa, so business has been on the decline with fewer elephants being killed. While there have been some troubling spikes in poaching in parts of Africa, the overall trend is that the number of elephants being killed is decreasing.Humans have a strong influence on the endangerment of species. With our own growing populations, we require larger areas for farming, houses, and infrastructure. Deforestation by humans cut down available habitats for various species. We sometimes bring foreign diseases and predators that wipe out entire colonies like the Dodo bird. Our need for more food and shelter often means the endangerment of other species. Most animals do not adapt to new environments that humans create and eventually die out. Noise, air, and visual pollution can disturb populations and the ingestion of some garbage like plastics can also lead to death.Orangutans, like the African elephant, are endangered, but on a critical level. A century ago, there were probably more than 230,000 orangutans in total, but now, there are only around 120,000 left. Unlike the elephants, they were not poached, but they did face habitat loss: their greatest threat. Deforestation for palm oil plantations particularly has led to more than 50% of the population living outside protected areas. Forest fires have also caused further habitat loss, severely cutting down the orangutan population. The illegal pet trade has also resulted in mothers being killed after giving birth to infant orangutans. They have also been hunted for food and for destroying crops in some areas of Southeast Asia, the latter just like elephants. It can be safely assumed that the states of these two species are largely due to human activity.The endangerment of species like the African elephant and the orangutan should be taken seriously, as it is important to maintain a stable environment with rich biodiversity. Humans are not the only inhabitants of the Earth – extinctions of various species in the future would be devastating to the world in the future. Education and awareness to prevent this are crucial.


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