An endangered species is a population of any living organism that is at risk of becoming extinct because it has decreased in number, by either changing environmental factors or through greater predation. In 2006, of all the species evaluated by The World Conservation Union (IUCN), 40 percent of this was said to be endangered. A matter of great concern right now is the rate in which many species have become extinct over the years, which some scientists have reported as accelerating through the years.
Endangered species need our attention. While many may relate only to endangerment of large mammals or birdlife, some of the greatest ecological issues are the threats to stability of whole ecosystems if key animals or plants become extinct at any level of the food chain.
Fiji currently has a number of organisms included in the Endangered Species List. Some of these organisms include marine turtles, Bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometobon muricatum), Humphead wrasse (Chilinus undulates), Triton trumpet snail (Charonia tritonis), and humpback whales. The Fiji’s Department of Fisheries has also listed a few species of concern which according to them are at risk of being wiped out. These include the lamp shell and the cowry shell, especially the golden cowry. MES works with the Institute of Marine Resources in tackling issues relating turtle conservation in the region.
There are many factors that lead to the endangerment of a particular species. These factors include:
A few other reasons for concern about extinction are:
The loss of a species is also an important factor, both as a decrease of the enjoyment of nature and as a moral issue for those who believe humans are stewards of the natural environment and believe that animal species have rights. Destabilisation is a well understood outcome when an element of food or predation is removed from an ecosystem. When one species goes extinct population increases or declines often result in secondary species. An unstable spiral may result until other species are lost and the ecosystem structure is changed markedly and irreversibly.
The third reason is more subtle however an important point for all to understand. Each species carries a unique genetic material in its DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid, which may produce unique chemicals according to the genetic instructions contained in its DNA. For example in the valleys of central China a fernlike weed called sweet wormwood grows and is the only source of artemisinin and is nearly 100 percent effective against malaria. If this plant were lost to extinction then the ability to control malaria, even today a potent killer, would diminish. There are countless other examples of chemicals unique to an individual species yet to be discovered which is harder if more species are lost through extinction. Though extinction can be a natural result of the process of natural selection, the current rate of extinction is not related to that process as human impact is a huge factor adding threat to many species of concern.