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We hear about wildlife conservation all the time, but why is wildlife conservation important?
Conserving wildlife ensures the safety of the ecosystems they live in – and thus, the earth – and ensures that future generations will also be able to enjoy nature and all its beauty.
To truly understand why wildlife conservation is important, and how to take steps to actually preserve it, it’s necessary to understand how these species interact with, affect and are affected by their ecosystems as well as external influences, such as human activity and the environment.
Experts have spent a long time dedicated to research in wildlife conservation, and we have put this information together in this article.
Why is Wildlife Conservation Important?
Promotes the Continuity of Native Plant Species
Food production relies very heavily on the existence of small animals like bees, insects and butterflies. Despite how small they are – and how much some humans may be disgusted by some of them – many insects are responsible for the pollination of flowers.
When these insects sit on flowers looking for nectar, they carry some of the pollen off when they leave, depositing it on other flowers. This results in the flower turning into a fruit, giving food not just to us humans, but also to all other species.
Crop production and intercropping are impossible without these insects. By promoting wildlife conservation, we are protecting these animals and thus ensuring food production.
Plants are major sources of medicines, but so are some animals! Venom from cobras is used to make medicine for leprosy whereas lobsters can be used to fight some fungi. Conserving wildlife would also mean protecting the natural habitats they thrive in, which is a very important aspect of medical research as well.
Besides all the benefits we get from nature as a whole, who doesn’t love to just enjoy nature? Many people head out for the holidays to places that bring them closer to nature, whether they realize it or not. Outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, camping, swimming, etc. are relaxing for us because of their close proximity to nature.
Preserving Culture & Heritage
Different parts of the world have different histories, and conserving wildlife means to conserve the local and traditional culture and heritage. The flora and fauna in some places are related to their native practices and their livelihood, which means that if you fail to conserve these things, not only would these people lose their land, but also their native heritage.
As an example, when we think of lions, elephants, giraffes, etc. we usually think of the African savannas, whereas the wildebeest migration is usually associated with plains.
Protecting Biodiversity & Endangered Species
In the jungle, which is the natural habitat for most plants and animals living in it, many species depend on each other through food chains and food webs. Carnivorous animals will eat herbivores to survive, whereas herbivores will eat plants.
Naturally, if one of the species within a food chain goes extinct, this will affect the entire food chain. Consider a chain where leopards eat antelopes to survive. Being higher up in the food chain means that the total energy needed to sustain the leopard will not be provided by just one antelope, and the leopards have to eat more than one to survive.
If humans enter the mix and start hunting for antelopes, this will result in a shortage for the leopards who depend on them for their survival. The antelopes will start dying out, and as a result, so will the leopards.
On the other hand, the plants that the antelopes feed on will flourish for a while, before their resources also start to deplete since there will be more and more plants fighting for the nutrients and sunlight.
This will in turn affect the survival of all other plants and animals within the ecosystem, thereby turning it completely upside down.
Protecting wildlife and allowing nature to take its course in an ecosystem prevents this from happening.
Ecological Stability & Balance
Plants play a very important role in ensuring that the ecosystem remains healthy by balancing out the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air. If plants start to die out and animal species become dominant, not only will we not have any food (since plants are the primary sources of food) but the balance between toxic and useful gasses in the environment will also be thrown off-kilter.
Failure to protect wildlife and conserve their natural habitats can result in serious problems like droughts and deserts. Uncontrolled deforestation and logging can have long-term effects that are very difficult and time-consuming to reverse.
Protecting the ecological balance and stability involves taking the step to conserve wildlife.
Enhancing Food Security
As mentioned earlier, plants are the primary food producers in any food chain. Without plants, there is no way to convert the energy from the sun into food energy. That is why, one of the most fundamental reasons for wildlife conservation is to enhance food security.
Protecting natural habitats and forests allows for agricultural diversity, as well as making sure that there are enough resources to promote agriculture as well. This makes sure that there is enough food for all species on the planet, not just humans.
Identification of New Species
Though research has gotten very sophisticated over the past few decades, there is still a large number of species that have either not been discovered yet or hasn’t been looked at closely enough.
In fact, a large portion of the species on this planet consists of microorganisms, many of which have yet to be discovered. If the natural habitat of these species is not conserved, they will also soon die out.
Some researchers also believe that the cures to some of the yet incurable diseases may lie in species that haven’t been discovered yet, further highlighting the importance of protecting their environments.
The wildlife of a place has a major role to play in how many tourists it is able to attract. Countries with a large number of wild animals or natural attractions generally attract more tourists.
This benefit seeps down and gives some major economic advantages since tourism contributes heavily towards the GDP of a country. Wildlife conservation centers and natural habitat preserves are some of the top choices for tourism. In fact, tourism accounts for up to 10% of the world’s GDP. If wildlife is not conserved, besides all the significant losses that could occur, we would also lose out on economic benefits.
Wildlife also creates thousands of jobs, from taking care of animals in zoos to reporting documentaries about these animals. All of this also contributes to the economy.
Protecting the Livelihood of Indigenous People
There are always people living around a natural ecosystem that rely on it and the resources it provides for their livelihood. From harvesting firewood for warmth and construction to fishing and hunting for survival, these indigenous people rely entirely on these natural ecosystems to survive.
By failing to preserve these ecosystems, these indigenous people are also at risk.
For these reasons, conserving wildlife is extremely important. Despite the advancements in technology, humans as a species have so far failed to protect our planet and have contributed heavily towards its destruction and the losses of much of the wildlife it had once contained.
Taking care of the world is everyone’s responsibility. Remember that your actions have effects, so whenever you make a decision to do something, think about how it would affect the wildlife around the world!