Battle Against Death
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. The Animal Planet channel covered the pregnancy and birth extensively, and an Internet web-camera still shows images of the mother and baby to computers all over the world. The American public got the chance to vote from the cubs names, and there was a contest for the attendance of the naming ceremony; the name was decided to be Tai Shan, meaning “peaceful mountain” in Chinese. With 1600 of them living in the wild and 160 in captivity the giant panda is one of the worlds most endangered animals. An endangered species is one that has a strong change of dying off in the near future. In order to understand endangered species completely one must look at how a species gets classified as “endangered,” what causes the endangerment, and what can be done to better a species chance for survival.
There are many ways to define a species threat to its continuation on Earth, and many things to consider; the most widely used set of criteria was created by the International Union for the Protection of Nature/World Conservation Union, which is organized into multiple levels. The first level is extinction, where “there is no reasonable doubt that the last member of the species has died” (“Extinction”). 99.9% of all the species that have existed on the Earth are extinct, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Homo erectus (a processor of mankind), and the dodo bird. The next level is critically endangered, meaning that the species is very likely to become extinct in the near future. Some of the criteria of being classified at the critical levels include: a reduction of at least 80% of the population over the last 10 years or three generations, and the population is less than 250 mature individuals. The dawn redwood (which was thought to be extinct until some where found in China) and the Siberian tiger are two examples of this level. Endangered species are those that have had a reduction of at least 50% of the population, the areas of occupancy is less than 500 km2, and a mature population of less than 2500 mature individuals. Sea otters and the Madonna lily of Europe are examples of endangered species. Cheetahs are classified as vulnerable species, one “that extinction can happen in the midterm” which includes a population of less than 10,000 mature individuals and a 20% population reduction. The final category is secure species, one that has little threat of extinction, species like white birch and llamas. Now the technicalities are out of the way it is time to how a species becomes threatened with extinction.
There are genetically, territorial, and other factors that lead to the end of a species. Natural selection can kill off many individuals when conditions become unfavorable for the dominant population, but this is only a threat to an entire species when the area of occupation is very small since inbreeding occurs more often. The loss of a species main habitat can be detrimental, whether through contamination of the area like when DDT limited the reproduction rates of birds like the bald eagle and the Californian condor, or through the actual destruction of the habitat like how the lost of the rainforest is threatening thousands of species. The mass predication of a species can quickly wipe it off the map, and this one also comes in two forms: hunting for sustenance, and hunting for profit. Humans rely on other species for food and clothing, when its for these reasons people hunt they usually only kill as much as is needed at the time, and a balance is mostly maintained. Sherry mentioned a mass extinction 11,000 years ago that happened because this balance was lost. When humans first crossed the Bering Strait and began to populate the Americas, humans in conjunction with the local predators like dire wolves and saber-tooth cats hunted animals like mammoths, horses, and camels in extinction along the berth of both continents, and when their food was gone the carnivores died as well. In a short period of time 70 species of animals became extinct because of this. The most widely publicized examples of human predication happen because of economic reasons. The Carolina parakeets was a beautiful bird with plumage of green, blue, yellow, and red, and these feathers were highly prized are decoration for womens hats. This and the fact that the parakeet fell in love with the taste of farm crops made it easier for farmers is kill the bird and sell the feathers for profit (Sherry 5-6). Competition for food and shelter, disease, and the dependence on a species that is endangered are other