Wildlife conservation is the process of consuming natural resources with care and responsibility so as to make them available for a long period of time. A renowned philosopher from Clemson University distinguishes conservation from preservation in the sense that preservation involves upholding natural resources for their own good, which includes guarding them from human abuse and interposition. Wildlife comprises all the organisms that are indirectly connected to human beings, like undomesticated animals and uncultivated plants. Wildlife conservation is one of the key issues related to the environment in the modern society. That is because the high level of human intervention and greed left most of the wildlife in a poor state; some species even became extinct due to human activities.
Many people act out of ignorance, and before they realize the consequences, it may be too late to make a turn. For the world to uphold the high standards of wildlife conservation, people need to realize the reason why it is important for them to preserve nature. They say that if one does not stand for something there is a likelihood that one will fall for anything. Consequently, people need to appreciate the crucial role the wildlife sector plays in their lives for them to conserve it properly. This paper argues that mankind should conserve wildlife not only for its own benefit but also for the welfare of human beings and the universe at large, basing the argument on certain historical events related to wildlife conservation.
Historical Background Relating to Wildlife Conservation
In the early 1600’s, wildlife was rich; there were many undomesticated animals and plants, and nature was able to satisfy all the needs of people. Nature offered a wide range of herbs and plants that humans could use in medicine, in preparing poisonous arrows for hunting, and to reinforce their shelters. With time, people’s needs matured into wants that led to exploitation – the utilization of natural resource for the purpose of gaining profit. Exploitation led to the massive consumption of wildlife due to such activities as deforestation and illegal pouching, which led to a decrease in wildlife.
By the mid 1800’s, there emerged the movement of environmentalists who saw the long term impacts of the rate at which wildlife was being exploited; they claimed that wildlife could become extinct in less than two centuries if mankind continued to exploit it excessively. People began to appreciate nature and realize the need for conserving natural resources. In 1862, the US government adopted the Morrill Act that advocated for the foundation of land-grant colleges that would offer agriculture related courses. Later in 1872, the US first national park (Yellowstone National Park) was established with the purpose of preserving natural resources. The park was situated in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, and its size was 3,472 square miles, or 2,221,773 square acres.
The Policies that Impacted Wildlife Conservation
Environmentalists saw the need of enforcing policies to govern the way humans should co-exist with wildlife. In 1916, the National Park Service policy was enacted, and a federal agency was established to take care of the US national parks. During that time, there was a rise in the shipment of illegally killed animals, and the government enacted the Lacey Act of 1990 that made wildlife trade illegal. Other policies adopted were the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929, which protected migrating birds, and the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, which required any person hunting migrating birds to be a holder of special stamps as a license from the National Park Agency. Besides conserving wildlife, such policies have created significant revenues of over $1 billion to date.
Different governmental bodies performed the above actions to sensitize people on the importance of conserving wildlife. Despite the hostility they faced during their campaign, their struggle was worthwhile in the sense that the fruits of their efforts are vivid even in the modern society. People have co-existed well with wildlife, while domestication is still in progress. Below are the main reasons why wildlife should be conserved.
Wildlife Helps to Uphold Biodiversity
Nature consists of different species that, when closely analyzed, appear to be interconnected. All species in the wildlife sector are related in one way or the other, no matter how little some species seem to offer. Frank Mazzotti, a researcher from the University of Florida, argues that the extinction of one species could lead to the extinction of others. He goes further to claim that the loss of a plant or an animal that is not culturally or economically important could lead to the extinction of a popular and valuable species in return. That makes mankind view wildlife conservation as a preventive measure for the unseen consequences.
For instance, when the pilgrims arrived in the North America in 1600, they domesticated some animals and excessively hunted. As a result, the number of antelopes, gazelles, and buffalos, whom the new settlers considered to be less important, decreased drastically. The predators living in those areas found no prey to feed on, and what was left in their disposal was to prey on the domesticated animals. That, in turn, led to a decrease in the number of domesticated animals. In my opinion, when conserving wildlife, people should concentrate on the long-term effects of their activities and understand the inter-relation of different species in the environment. As a result, they will be able to make a wise judgment when handling one species to prevent the extinction of another.
Wildlife Helps in Agricultural Upgrading
Most of the crops and plants people use in the agricultural sector were once wild species. After a thorough research, people decided they were worth being domesticated for human consumption. With the advances in technology and diverse researches, people could domesticate more plants in the years to come to help improve agriculture and meet the high food supply demands. Biodiversity research has proved that the variety of crops in agriculture makes them less vulnerable to diseases. For example, one species of crops, when growing alone, is prone to many diseases and will, most likely, succumb to them. Frank Mazzotti talks about the many unused crops that mankind could domesticate one day. He also states that various species of wild plants could hold the genetic content that could aid in strengthening the genetic material of crops and increase their immunity to many diseases. People developed many biodegradable pesticides using wild plants.
Moreover, in the early 1750s, during the agrarian revolution, researches carried out many studies and stated there was a need to intercrop leguminous plants with maize and corn for them to act as nitrogen fixers. That led to the domestication of leguminous plants, like beans and peas, and to the improvement of the performance of maize in Europe. Thus, it is evident through research and testing that mankind can domesticate new wild crops to improve farming and generate powerful breeds that are resistance to crop and animal diseases. Consequently, well thought-out wildlife conservation leads not only to the preservation of species in their initial shape but also to their enhancement and evolution.
Wildlife Helps in Research
Despite the fact that many plants and animals have been discovered and some of them domesticated, nature remains widely mysterious as people make more discoveries each day. For example, the international study the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) emphasizes on the importance of preserving wildlife for the sake of species that can aid humans, like plants that people may use in both traditional medicine and the pharmaceutical field.
According to their 1987 research, 50% of American medicine was developed from microbial plants, animals, organisms, and other natural resources. That means that instead of totally relying on artificial medicine, wildlife sources are worthwhile and more effective. It is saddening that if people fail to conserve wildlife, they will end up losing medical science in return.
In order to properly protect nature, people have to research their surroundings and try to find the best ways of conserving it. In the process, they gain valuable knowledge that they may use in enhancing their personal living conditions and wellbeing; they learn more about natural resources that they may use in developing their technologies and advancing their civilization. Consequently, knowing how to preserve wildlife provides mankind with the opportunity to conduct research for personal gain without harming nature.
Wildlife helps in the Development of Economics of Eco-Services
The existing ecosystems provide enough raw materials that people use in their industries and other undertakings. On the other hand, humans tend to take various environmental factors and gifts of nature for granted. Nevertheless, wildlife conservation influences the state of ecosystems in ways that are not immediate but evidenced after some time. According to the report released by TEEB, ecosystems are important since they dictate the quality and quantity of fresh water available to human beings. Despite the efforts to compensate for lack of water by means of artificial purification, these methods tend to be rather expensive compared to the cost of caring for our ecosystem. Ecosystem valuation organizations have been holding worldwide campaigns since 1996 to inform people about the importance of wildlife and a stable food flow to humans. Their argument is that there is no need of trying to come up with artificial ways of replenishing natural resources since nature conservation can offer such services for free.
The matter is that it is challenging for human beings to replace natural resources with artificial ones. TEEB states that humans do not fully understand how the ecosystems function. In my opinion, instead of adopting artificial tactics to create consumable resources, humans should conserve the ecosystems that will not only provide fresh water and stable food, but they will also help save the money used to develop and implement such tactics. Humans cannot completely comprehend the mystery behind the ecosystems and the only thing they can do is to conserve them and guard them against pollution, extinction, and immoderate exploitation.
The importance of wildlife and its conservation is immense. The long-term effects of destroying, exploiting and neglecting the existing ecosystems may have grave consequences in the future. Despite the measures made by humans to substitute the role played by wildlife in spheres like the provision of fresh water, such measures end up bringing more harm than good; for example, global warming. Humans should appreciate wildlife and the role it plays in their life. That way, wildlife conservation will be a personal motivation rather than something being enforced by the law. Wildlife conservation is important in upholding biodiversity, upgrading agriculture, conducting research, and maintaining ecosystems among other factors. Finally, natural resources cannot be substituted with any artificial methods and prevention is better than cure.