In the last few years, habitat destruction, wildlife trade, pollution, disease and climate change have been some of the greatest threats to the survival of wildlife. Currently, there are over 32,000 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List whose very existence is threatened
But all hope is not lost. Conservation efforts in the past have managed to achieve some pretty incredible things, including bringing back animal and bird species from near extinction. Here are 5 that made an amazing comeback:
The panda has become the poster child for wildlife conservation. In 1980s excessive poaching and deforestation brought the panda population down to just a few hundreds. With millions of dollars being spent on habitat restoration, captive breeding and protection enforcement, the panda population is now more than 2000 strong!
2. Sea otter:
Sea otters too faced a period of near extinction after their numbers dropped to a mere 2,000 in 1911. This was primarily because they were trapped and killed for their luxurious fur. But after noticing their rapidly declining population, the International Fur Seal Treaty was signed in 1911, between US, Russia, Japan, and Great Britain, to ban large scale commercial hunting of sea otters and to allow their population to recover. Their global population now consists of just over 100,000 otters.
3. American Alligator
The American alligator population reached an all-time low in the 1950s and it was thought that their population would never recover due to unchecked hunting and habitat destruction. They were listed under the Endangered Species Act and after years and years of tireless work to preserve their habitat and ensure their protection, they were finally taken off the list in 1987 and are now thriving.
Often considered nature’s finest flying machine, it wasn’t always blue skies and sunshine for the Peregrine falcon. Peregrine populations were in steep decline during the mid-20th century, and in the United States, these beautiful birds became an endangered species. Loss of habitat, shootings, egg collecting, and other human disturbances had weakened their populations for decades, but drastic declines didn’t occur until after the widespread use of a popular insecticide—DDT, used to control agricultural pests and malaria-carrying mosquitoes. By the mid-1960s, there were no peregrines in the eastern United States and by the mid-70s western populations had declined by up to 90 percent.
Thankfully DDT was banned by 1972, and gradually the falcon population rose. By 1999, they were off the endangered species list and soaring again.
The Schaus Swallowtail Butterfly, which graced a stamp in 1996 to reflect its endangered status, is one of the rarest butterfly species and isn’t easy to locate. Over the years, habitat loss, drought, pesticides have contributed to a drop in sightings from 41 in 2011 to four in 2012. Efforts were made to protect their habitat and thanks to the captive breeding program undertaken by the University of Florida, 50 butterflies and 200 caterpillars were released into the wild. By 2016, there were hundreds of them, increasing hope for their survival
These are big wins for the planet and it’s important that we keep fighting hard for all creatures that don’t have a voice of their own. After all, this is their planet too.