Conservation's Biggest Challenge? The Legacy of Colonialism (Op-Ed)

Live Science | 5/19/2019 | Staff
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Species appear and disappear in the blink of a geologic eye; that's a rule of life. There have been five mass extinctions in Earth's past, when changes to the climate, the emergence of new adaptations and even cosmic interventions caused many unique life-forms to die off. A sixth mass extinction is currently underway, and the only thing that distinguishes it from its predecessors is the cause: humans.

Why are so many of Earth's species going extinct? The reasons are myriad and include loss of habitat, overhunting and competition with non-native species that were introduced by people. But how did we get to this point, so soon after an era in which the world's bounty seemed endless, with flocks of passenger pigeons so large that they covered the sun and herds of bison that numbered in the thousands?

Species - Bird

A species of bird evolved to be flightless, twice!

In fact, many of the European nations that are even now forcing conservation measures on countries across the world are to blame for the current conservation crisis.

Tigers - Example - Darlings - Conservation - Efforts

Tigers, for example, are the darlings of conservation efforts worldwide. An estimated 80,000 tigers were slaughtered in India between 1875 and 1925, when the country was under British rule; currently, the global tiger population is less than 4,000 individuals, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

American bison, on the other hand, represent a modern conservation success story — or so it would seem. Federal protections saved bison from extinction in the mid-1900s, but the iconic animals were brought to the brink of extinction by European colonizers. Driven largely by a desire to destroy a much-needed indigenous resource, colonizers' widespread slaughter reduced bison populations from over 30 million animals to fewer than 100 individuals in less than a century, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported.

(Excerpt) Read more at: Live Science
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