Every 50-100 million years, about 95% of all the living species die on our planet. Scientists refer to this process as Holocene Extinction. In accordance with this theory, some experts claim that saving endangered species can be completely pointless because it interrupts the natural order of things.
Bright Side has researched the reasons why some people think that saving endangered species is not only pointless but harmful as well.
Extinction is a natural process that always accompanies evolution. This is nature’s way of getting rid of species that don’t adapt well to the environment, so it favors the strongest ones. Biologist R. Alexander Pyron supports this point of view. He believes that the entire concept of endangered species is completely wrong because absolutely all species go extinct gradually.
There’s one reasonable argument that says many animals go extinct because of what we, humans, do. Pyron says that the changes humans make to the environment are not unnatural. We’re part of the planet’s ecosystem and our actions are just as natural. If a species becomes extinct, it will be replaced by a new one sooner or later. Of course, this is a lengthy process and it’s almost impossible to actually notice it in the natural environment.
Pyron believes that when people attempt to save endangered species, they’re just trying to ease their own guilt.
Changes in the ecosystem
Along with extinction, there are other processes going on such as changes in the ecosystem. The most prominent example of this is the man-made returning of wolves in Yellowstone where there are many deer and moose. Of course, the predators that came to the forest ate a lot of these animals which led to an increase in the number of aspen and other poplar trees which caused a growth in the population of beavers. Additionally, scientists noticed other less obvious consequences:
- Just 2 years after wolves returned to the forest, the number of local coyotes became 2 times smaller than before.
- Foxes that are coyotes’ competitors thrived. Because foxes eat small rodents that eat roots, leaves, nuts, and other vegetation, the local flora has changed a lot.
During the cultural revolution in China, there was a similar situation. In order to increase the harvest, the local government decided to kill sparrows. During the first year, the harvest actually grew, but the next year, caterpillars and locusts increased in number. The harvest decreased and there was famine in the country.
According to this information, the main problem of saving a species is that it becomes almost impossible to predict how nature will respond to the return of an animal that had died.
The cost of saving a species
The cost of saving endangered species varies in different countries. According to some estimations, about $50 billion is spent across the entire planet every year. The money is spent on organization and maintenance reserves, law improvements, and of course, the fight against poachers. As scientists themselves say, the amount of money is not very huge, especially when we’re talking about the fate of the eco-system (in other words, the fight for human civilization). But this amount of money is still considered to be a lot in many countries.
For example, in Florida (USA), the authorities are doing everything they can to save the endangered pumas. Despite spending from $50 to $100 million every year, the number of animals has increased insignificantly. So the reasonable question is: should we spend so much money on trying to save something that will still die?
Experts have a simple answer: if we don’t invest money into saving endangered species now, we will have to invest far more in the future. For example, if there are no bees, food will become way more expensive, and if vultures go extinct, cases of rabies and an increase in medical expenses are inevitable.
A lack of genetic diversity
A lack of genetic diversity can lead to terrible consequences, including the entire extinction of a species. This can also be seen over the course of human history: 600 years of consanguineous marriages in the Royal Family resulted in Charles II who couldn’t chew his food.
The same happens with animals. The most prominent example is the tiger named Kenny that lives in one of the reserves in the US. The animal was officially diagnosed with Down syndrome. The parents of the tiger were brother and sister which led to this disorder.
An unhealthy attachment to humans
The main way to save a species is having them reproduce in captivity. Animals are kept in reserves until there are enough of them to let go free.
This happened to the condor. People used special dolls that looked like the species when they raised the little birds. This was necessary in order to prevent the young birds from thinking that humans were their parents. But despite all the precautions, the birds that were let free often visited people and showed interest that they don’t usually have. This led to a cultural barrier between truly wild condors and the ones that were grown in the reserve.
The ethical problem of zoos and reserves
In order to save a species, it’s necessary to choose several animals to be used for reproduction. The chosen animals are kept in reserves or zoos and are under constant supervision. The problem is, reproduction in such conditions is often very difficult because:
- It’s hard to choose a partner because the number of animals is very limited.
- The number of breeding seasons is decreased from 4-5 to 1-2 per year.
- Almost all animals in captivity experience psychological pressure which can lead to a disruption in the cycles in females.
This is why some experts think that attempts to restore the number of animals this way is a form of torture.
Interestingly, the more people talk about saving a species, the faster it becomes extinct. This is because these animals are so often seen in movies and commercials that even scientists sometimes don’t know they’re endangered. According to calculations, every person sees more lions on TV than there are in real life.
If you were a scientist and the survival of a species depended on you, what would you do?