Animal extinction is a biological phenomenon, consisting in the disappearance (death) of all members of a particular species or taxon. Animal species that are subject to the
threat of extinction are called endangered species. Extinction may be of natural or anthropogenic causes depending on certain environmental factors.
Animal extinction is a relatively new problem as until yet recently people were killing as many animals as they needed for food or skins. With the growth of population the need increased, which more than once led to the extinction of some species.
Only in the middle of the XVI century, people became aware that soon hunting grounds would be empty, and that was time the first restrictions on hunting began to be introduced. However, the prohibition pursued yet another goal: to continue hunting after the recovery of population.
The very first bans prohibiting hunting and extermination of animals appeared not long before the end of the XIX century, when even in Europe some species began to be considered extinct: bison was at the edge of extinction, tour had disappeared back in 1627 as well as tarpan, which became extinct in 1918.
The fact that a large number of species have become extinct during the last 150 years is a cause for concern. Current extinction rate is 10 to 100 times higher than in any previous periods of mass extinction in Earth’s history. If of these processes keep up the rate or speed up, the number of species at risk will be numbered in the millions in the next decade.
While most people are willing to respond to the threat of extinction of certain mammals or birds, the most significant environmental problem is a threat to the stability of entire ecosystems, provided that the key species disappear at some level of the food chain. Destabilization becomes very probable, when some food chain links disappears from the system. When one species disappears, changes in the number of secondary species population are very probable. A situation may arise when the entire ecosystem will change significantly and irreversibly.
Extinction of species is an important factor in a reduction in the wealth of nature as well as a moral problem for those who believe that people are obliged to maintain the natural environment (and those who believe that animals have rights).
In many countries, there are laws that protecting such species from total extinction and aiding endangered species population recovery. In fact, only a few species at risk for extinction obtain legal protection. The position of most species endangered species does not receive an adequate response in the society.
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