The next mass extinction of species may be underway and human caused. A recent report published in the journal Nature indicates that this extinction, would be the sixth mass extinction whereby more than 75% of species die off.
USA Today reports that the impact humans have had on other mammals is clear. Since the dawn of mass human population growth around 500 years ago the number of mammal extinctions is 80 in 5,570. This is not a huge portion when we consider the definition of mass extinction as being 75% of the species, but before human population growth mammal extinctions were very rare.
This coincides with a statement issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which declares that the eastern cougar is officially extinct. The eastern cougar was long thought to be a different breed than its western U.S. counterpart, but scientists are unsure and will have no way to ever find out. The cougar was commonly believed to still have a small breeding community by most hunters and outdoors enthusiasts. Many still hold to these claims stating that the elusiveness of the cat, which has earned them the nickname ‘ghost cat,’ is the cause of their lack of visibility. Yet the statement comes after many attempts by researches to locate any sign of the animal. The Huffington Post reports that the Eastern Cougar Foundation spent a decade looking for signs of breeding communities and was unable to do so. Extinctions like these are only going to become more frequent.
Another mammal threatened by human hunting is the African lion. The Guardian reports that their populations are dwindling and this is largely due to the market for lion goods. Fur trophy rugs and teeth are two of the most popular products. The International Fund for Animal Welfare clearly asserts that the African Lion is headed towards extinction. In the past hundred years the population has decreased from over 200,000 to fewer than 40,000. Lions have already become extinct in 26 countries and only seven countries left can boast more than 1,000 of the large cats within their borders.
Many conversationalists are pushing for a hunting ban on the African lion, but governments say this would decrease their revenue and hurt their economies. Americans particularly have shown their desire to hunt the lions – most likely because killing a lone cat in a group of 8 from a hundred yards away makes them feel special – over 63% of the lions killed in African over the past ten years have been shipped to the U.S. as trophies.
The next mass extinction could very well be in its beginning stages and we are its causes. We have to change the mentality that surrounds hunting and we have to quit our encroachment and pollution of wildlife environments through oil drilling and industrial expansion. Let’s not be the cause of the next mass extinction.
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