What is Extinction?

Extinction is simply the process of a species or group of animals no longer existing. If an animal is becoming extinct, it is referred to as “endangered.” There are professionals whose job is to protect these animals and preserve the wildlife that has limited numbers.  Their goal is to hopefully repopulate them and save them from extinction. 

So Why Do Animals Become Extinct?

The way we behave as humans has a major effect on wildlife populations. For example, people who don’t consider the consequences of their actions ruin the places some animals consider to be their homes.

The formal name for the place a particular animal lives is “habitat.” Some behaviors that harm habitats are agriculture expansion, water exploitation, waste and sewage, and mining.

Some animals dangerously close to extinction (endangered) include the black rhino (around 5,600 left), African wild dog (around 1,400), amur leopard (around 84 left), and the Sunda tiger (less than 400 left).

One Story of Extinction

The Formosan clouded leopard, an animal native only to Taiwan, went extinct in 2013. The Clouded Leopard was dependent upon Taiwan’s lowland forests for food and shelter. These forests were cleared to sell wood and to make room for buildings and agriculture. The species was forced to look for food elsewhere, outside of its habitat. Unfortunately, this was not sustainable. As a top predator, the leopard played an important role in regulating the populations of its prey species, which included small mammals such as rodents and birds. With the loss of the leopard, the populations of these prey species may have increased, leading to imbalances in the food web.

In addition, the loss of such an iconic and charismatic species can had social and cultural impacts as well. The Formosan clouded leopard was an important symbol of Taiwan’s natural heritage and cultural identity, and its extinction is a loss not just for wildlife but also for human communities that relied on it for inspiration and connection to the natural world.

What is H.I.P.P.O?

H.I.P.P.O. (habitat, invasive species, pollution, population, overharvesting) is an acronym to provide some insight as to how animals begin to slip into extinction.

H – Habitat destruction: This means that when humans cut down forests, we take away the homes of animals and plants.

I – Invasive species: Sometimes people bring in new animals or plants from other places that don’t belong in the ecosystem. These new species can hurt or kill off native species.

P – Pollution: Pollution is when harmful chemicals get into the air, water, or soil. This can make it hard for animals and plants to survive. It contaminates their home.

P – Population growth: As more people live on Earth, we need more land, food, and resources. This can lead to overusing natural resources and damaging habitats.

O – Overharvesting: This happens when people catch too many fish or hunt too many wild animals. It’s important to only take what we need so that these species can continue to live and reproduce.

Aquaponics minimizes our environmental footprint by allowing us to use up to 90% less water when growing crops. Furthermore, it enables us to grow vegetables and fish that are all-natural. Additionally, aquaponics preserves fish species by producing healthy fish that do not contain mercury or radiation. In this system, food can grow in a very small space. So, aquaponics helps limit extinction by reducing agricultural expansion into essential habits. One final benefit is that natural water ecosystems are no longer endangered by overfishing or the damaging use of nets.

Despite the price of upkeep that comes from the high energy costs associated with the constantly running LED lights (especially in larger systems). Aquaponics undoubtedly helps to lessen our environmental footprint and save our environment.

How Can You Help Protect Endangered Species?

Helpful Teaching Resources:

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