Endangered species and hunting

Certain species are endangered - if they are not helped, they are likely to become extinct. Conservation measures aim to protect species from extinction and habitats from destruction.

Endangered species

Individuals that are poorly adapted to their environment are less likely to survive and reproduce than those that are well adapted. Similarly, it's possible that a species that is poorly adapted to its environment will not survive and will become extinct.

Factors that can cause a species to become extinct include:

  • changes to the environment, such as a change in climate
  • destruction of habitats
  • hunting
  • pollution
  • competition from other species

From the list above, all of these can be a consequence of human action.

The fossil record shows that many species have become extinct since life on Earth began. Extinction is still happening and a lot of it occurs because of human activities. Human beings compete with other living things for space, food and water and are very successful predators.

The dodo

An artist's impression of a Dodo
Engraving of the extinct dodo

The dodo was a large flightless bird that lived on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. The island was uninhabited and the dodo had no natural predators. Then Mauritius was colonised by the Dutch in 1638. Dodos were hunted for food and were easy to catch. New competitors were brought onto the island, including pigs, cats and rats. These ate the dodos' eggs and their young and within 80 years the dodo was extinct. The presence of humans had a negative impact on the survival of the dodo.

Saving the Rhino

South Africa is home to the largest population of rhino in the world but poaching means that the rhinos are close to being extinct. Poaching is illegal hunting. The poachers sell the rhino horns, which are worth more gram-for-gram than diamonds and gold. The rhino's habitat is also under threat.

A pair of white rhino
A pair of white rhino

There are a number of conservation efforts taking place across the world that are helping to save the rhinos.