World Wildlife Fund

We CAN save the planet

By SAANAH TILLBERG
Staff Writer

Hawksbill Wurtle. PC: By Sidne Ward

Do you ever just contemplate the impending doom of our planet due to our abundant levels of human stupidity? Did you know that in the last 50 years, humans have eliminated 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest mostly through means of clear-cutting trees? Or that eight out of ten land based species depend on the forest to survive?

What if I told you that in a Living Planet Report from 2014, it was found that over the last 40 years, various species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish have declined by 52 percent?

It is clear that there is a human-animal conflict and unfortunately without intervention, the planet is facing mass extinction of many of its beautiful and unique creatures. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was created as a means for international fundraising to support existing conservation groups who have been working since the early 1960s to restore the populations of various species as well as some of Earth’s most threatened habitats. Currently the WWF and their partners are working to support 45 different endangered species, 17 of which are considered critically endangered.

Now, let’s talk about turtles. The hawksbill turtle is a type of sea turtle found primarily in tropical oceans in coral reefs. They are crucial members of their ecosystems as they help preserve the health of both coral reefs and sea grass beds. An average hawksbill turtle grows to be 1 meter long, but the largest know hawksbill turtle was 280 lbs. These (not so) little guys are now on the critically endangered species list. Their population began to dwindle when humans started to capture them in order to harvest their tortoiseshell material, which was then used mostly for decorative purposes. Essentially, humans have nearly eradicated their population for the purposes of furnishing their homes (remember when I mentioned the impending doom of our planet?).

The hawksbill turtle is just one example of the many different species that the WWF is attempting to save. One of the organization’s goals is to double the number of wild tigers, another endangered species with a current population of less than 4000, by 2022.

Since its establishment, the WWF’s focus has shifted to six main areas of concern: forests, marine, freshwater, wildlife, food and climate. The organization believes that if they continue to focus on these six areas that they “can better leverage [their] unique assets and direct all [their] resources to protecting vulnerable places, species and communities worldwide.” Their efforts to save the planet are widespread throughout various sectors and range from fieldwork, to educating people on making sustainable decisions, to working in with government to develop conservation policies.

Organizations like these give hope to the notion that we are not completely doomed. The WWF has 1.1 million supporters who help them daily to make a difference. If you’ve been inspired by the turtles, tigers, polar bears or any of the other 41,415 species of plants and animals that are currently endangered, you too can partner with the WWF to make a difference. Visit their website and adopt an endangered species by making a donation to a cause of your choice. You can also find information on their website on how to make environmentally conscious decisions as well as links to ecofriendly products. If we all contribute and make an effort to change our ways, we CAN save the planet.