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Loss of wildlife

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May 19, 2017 by Species Ecology

Loss of wildlife

Viviana Granado

The wildlife is a natural resource that has been exploited by man since the beginning of time. It has been exploited to supply food and shelter, build houses and leather-furniture and to use its fat as fuel. Man has subsequently began selective breeding to achieve docile animals which are easy to handle for use as pets, livestock and or pack animals.

Since the discovery of Americas and its conquest, many wildlife species were commercially exploited with the mindset that it was an infinite resource. However many natural animal populations declined and some even became extinct through these relentless exploitations and degradation of the biological resources. In Argentina, several species were hunted indiscriminately and their products were consumed locally or abroad, mainly in the nineteenth and early twentieth century (Bertonatti and Corcuera. 2000). Millions of animal furs or pelts are skinned off from all kinds of animals notably from charismatic vertebrates such as pampas (Ozotoceros bezoarticus), foxes (Pseudalopex spp), wild cats (Felidae Fa.), coypu (Myocastor coypus), caiman (Caiman spp) and boa (Boa constrictor occidentalis). These pelts are then shipped back to Europe for processing hence to meet the sheer demands of luxury items for the aristocrats, civil servants, hunters, colonizers and Royal descendents.

The first legal law in Argentina to regulate the use of wildlife came into effect in 1821 and it regulated the hunting nutria. Since then, many laws were enacted in order to control or protect wildlife. However, the punishing reality is that today the extinction of species in Latin America and around the tropical biomes is alarmingly high and rate of extinction remains exponential despite the conventions, treaties and international laws to prevent such demise.

Therefore a question arises: in spite of all these international treaties and laws in place why the wildlife continues to decline? The answer may largely lies in carrying our conservation actions plans by a country or region without an ecosystem approach also known as Eco Regional Based Conservation (ERBC). This means that the fauna and flora are organisms that interact in a very complex and dynamic environment. You can not carry out conservation protection measures isolated by disregarding the abiotic factors, such as soil, water air, nutrient and biogeochemical cycle.

The ecosystem approach seeks a balance between conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. It takes into account all forms of relevant information, including scientific knowledge, indigenous and local innovations and practices. Most importantly ERBC is carried out in holistic manner, taking an interdisciplinary approach. Currently, the ecosystem approach is the primary framework for action under international treaties and conventions. It lays out management strategy involving the soil, water, air and organisms that promotes more equitable distribution of the benefits of conservation, economics and society. In Argentina, by early 1990, ERBC has started to implemented projects that not only designed and tested mechanisms of sustainable use of wildlife but also incorporated concrete conservation and habitat protection. This means a major change that leads to a sustainable use of wildlife.

To conclude, we can think of three important concepts:

1. The role played by NGOs in the area of ERBC. Generally speaking, all environmental issues are very important because they touch the heart and feelings of non-technical people in very many ways. We must support and enhance the role that NGOs provide to society especially in terms of environmental awareness in the community. In Argentina, Greenpeace played a key role in the enactment of the national law on the protection of native forests.

2. In one end of the spectrum we acknowledge developmental activities of man changed the environment in some degree often negatively. On the other end of the spectrum we need to make use of natural resources for societal and economic development. In the middle of this same spectrum we as representation of civil society hear political, philosophical and scientific debate and discourse surrounding sustainable development or climate change that we may not fully understand its meaning. In the case of eco-regional based conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of wildlife without harming future generations who can also take advantage of wildlife species as we do now is the fundamental key.

3. All actions carried out by a country should have an ecosystem approach and should involve the entire region that is affected. Wildlife knows no nationality or borders, its range includes several countries generally. It makes no sense to establish protective measures in one country and not in another neighboring country. Respect regional treaties and agreements is essential if the real objective is to conserve wildlife.

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