It’s safe to say that we all live in somewhat of an illusion when it comes to our planet. We are all guilty of looking the other way or simply focusing on the bad in the world. In reality, it is all about balance. We first need to understand the very real issues concerning our wildlife and how we, as a society, are enabling it. It is only then that we can go about changing our ways, bypassing illusion and making our own reality. To prove this point, I have gathered five cases that show our current reality and how we can go about changing it.
Australia – Wild Fires
As of early 2020, it is estimated that over one billion mammals, birds and reptiles have been affected by the fires raging across Australia, with New South Wales being the most affected. Whilst wildfires can occur regularly in Australia, the 2019 fire season combined with 40C temperatures and strong winds saw a dramatic spread of the flames. Two species which have been most affected are kangaroos and koalas. The fires go against the animal’s instincts, with koalas climbing high into the trees for protection. Unfortunately, eucalyptus trees contain such a high level of oil that they are prone to ignite and explode in such heat. Charities such as WWF Australia and the Irwin family, who collaborate with Australia Zoo, are rescuing animals from the flames and transporting them to safe locations, building funds to replant and reinstate the trees.
Democratic Republic of the Congo – Poaching
Following the death of the last male Northern White Rhino in 2018, only two females now live on – Fatu and Najin. The species were hunted extensively for their horns as many believe them to possess lucrative healing properties. Unfortunately, neither female can carry a pregnancy, but scientists were able to extract fertile eggs. With the extracted and frozen sperm of the male rhino, there is hope for the species if the labs and supporting charities can raise enough funds for the research and procedure.
The Great Pacific – Coral Bleaching and Plastic Pollution
Our coral reefs are in a state of despair, global warming and temperature shifts are causing coral bleaching. It has been proven that 159 reefs across Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar are being bleached but also covered in plastic. Plastic bottles and packaging cling to coral where it quickens the bleaching process in addition to sickening the coral. This same plastic is also endangering many species, such as sea turtles as they ingest the plastic mistaking it as food. In order to help our oceans, you can simply start by switching out plastics for more Eco-friendly options like metal straws or reusable coffee cups.
South America – Illegal Parrot Trade
We all hear stories of exotic pets, but wild parrots are one of the most lucrative trades. Over 22,000 parrots of 31 different species were found in the pet markets of Bolivia being illegally traded. Species such as the hyacinth macaw or the red-crowned Amazon were amongst the most popular, making up the estimated 78,500 wild parrots caught every year. In 2018, many charities came together to make an action plan to save the species close to extinction. The main focuses of this plan are to investigate and improve parrot habitat both inside and outside of conservation areas, as-well-as building a database of wildlife crime to track this international trade.
United Kingdom – Racing Welfare
Tradition is something that we all partake in, many find it in the form of racing, whether that be on TV or in person. In the UK, horse and greyhound racing is a staple of sport but over the past few years, the welfare of the animals has risen to the foreground for many. Many racecourses now act against cruelty. For example, Great Yarmouth stadium employs on-site vets for every greyhound race and don’t believe in putting dogs down. Charities such as Yarmouth Greyhound Homefinders will work with the trainers of injured or retired dogs and get them a new home, to give them a life after racing. It’s all about doing your research!
Words: Beth Graham, Storehouse Content Team, @beth_grahamm
Illustrations: Beth Stilgoe, Fine Art, @stilgoe.studios