The world is in the midst of an extinction event, with more than 1 million plant and animal species across the globe at risk of being wiped out because of human activity.
This grim forecast is the conclusion of a recent United Nations assessment. Many scientific experts believe we are currently in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history, and the first since dinosaurs became extinct when an asteroid hit the planet 66 million years ago, according to a USA Today report.
The U.N. report, which was based on thousands of scientific studies, concludes that native plant and animal life across most of the planet’s major land habitats has decreased by 20 percent or more, mostly over the past 100 years, according to a New York Times report on the assessment. Human activities, including farming, mining, logging and poaching, are altering the world’s natural landscape. Alongside those human activities, environmental changes have also led to a decline in wildlife, the assessment concludes.
With the risk of losing species to extinction looming, we can draw inspiration from successful conservation efforts that have brought animals back from the brink of extinction. In fact, both our national emblem — the bald eagle — and the national mammal — the American bison — were once endangered and at risk of extinction, but populations have been restored through concerted efforts to save them.
“We can do really cool stuff if we put our minds to it,” said Bob Bryerton, an interpretive naturalist for the Forest Preserve District.
And although our past successes have proven what we are capable of, we must also stay mindful of how human activity affects the wildlife all around us, he explained.
“It’d be nice if we considered animals,” he said.
Here’s a closer look at some of the animal conservation success stories we have right here in Will County.