United Nations World Wildlife Day


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March 3 is United Nations World Wildlife Day. Why should you care?

It’s a tough sell sometimes for people to understand why if, as one example, Orangutan species disappear on the other side of the world, it impacts all of us. And there are many reasons,

The red apes are a primary disperser of seeds in the Bornean and Sumatran forests. Without them, the forests and all the animals residing there will continue to disappear, which is happening as developers replace native forests with palm oil plantations. As the natural forests diminish, it’s not only orangutans disappearing but all other species of animals and plants who live there. We have no idea which of these plants may one day be used for pharmaceuticals to help people.

The forests are being destroyed, in great part, due to palm oil plantations. Palm oil is a cheap and high yielding resource accounting for over 35 percent  of all vegetable oil worldwide. In Indonesia, where 85 percent of all palm oil is produced, only around 16 percent of the country’s producers have obtained sustainable certification. What’s more the forests are also impacted by logging, much of it illegal. And poaching goes on too.

Old growth forests are destroyed, and peat fields burned actually impacting the amount of oxygen for the planet. Borneo is the largest island on the planet, and the native rain forest there once was the second largest, exceeded only by the Amazon basin, which is also shrinking.

It’s not only that the planet does require Bornean rain forests, there’s an ethics issue. Afterall, the various Orangutan species share about 97 percent of our genetics. Orangutan babies look (and even act) strikingly like human babies.

It’s rare not to find a seabird or fish without some plastic in their gut. Die-offs occur frequently as a result. There are now two giant floating garbage dumps in the Pacific Ocean, mostly made up of plastics and discarded fishing lines. Because the Great Pacific garbage patches are so far from any country’s coastline, no nation will take responsibility or provide the funding to clean it up. Meanwhile, they continue to grow.

If you are in your 20’s or 30’s by the time you have grandchildren, the black rhinoceros, all giraffe species, the Sundra Island and Sumatran Tigers and dozens of others, not to mention innumerable species of insects will be gone forever – at least if humans maintain their steady rate of destruction. In all, when you add in plants, over a million species are imperiled.

Humans caused this problem and only humans can step up to solve it. However, sadly, it doesn’t appear to be a priority, and may not be until it’s too late.