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TURNING BACK THE TIDE OF EXTINCTION Photo Credit: Solly LeviAuthor: Bruce Coetzee In terms of biodiversity and wilderness across our planet, the tide of loss has resulted in devastating consequences for the Earth and its inhabitants. However, an unwavering commitment to halting the devastation and destruction has birthed many successful projects, which have seen species literally pulled back from the precipice of complete eradication. Some of the most significant changes brought about through the absence of ecological support mechanisms have resulted in environmental collapse and the subsequent death of natural life altogether! Many of the animals that have been successfully reintroduced to the wild are victims of man's willful ignorance, aberrant attitude towards Mother Nature, and not the system of natural selection. One of the most ambitious of these initiatives is aimed at undoing the damage and focuses on reintroducing Cheetahs to the wild lands of India. South-west Africa is home to one of the world's largest Cheetah populations and has undertaken a five-year plan, which will see animals reintroduced to protected wildlife sanctuaries across the vast expanse of India's natural beauty. Biodiversity restoration is critical in realigning the damage already done since the species was first declared extinct by the Indian government in 1952. Another example of animals that has made a positive comeback is the Black Footed Ferret, native to North America. These creatures are members of the weasel family and were once considered the rarest mammal on Earth. Loss of natural habitat, compounded by the actions of humankind, including eradicating the ferret's primary food source, the prairie dog, saw these creatures listed as threatened since 1967. Conservation efforts began in earnest following a 1984 consensus which placed the population numbers at a frightening 18 individuals. Captive breeding initiatives have since seen incredible results in establishing wild populations, and according to a report released in 2007, the number of wild ferrets had improved to a staggering 1000 individuals. Photo Credit: Solly LeviHowever, it is more than mammals that have made significant returns. Vultures were once abundant across Europe and, as we have known for decades, provide an invaluable service on nature's behalf. The diet of these avian wonders consists of carrion, and the remains of predator kill form the bulk of the vultures' diet. Populations have steadily disappeared over the last 200 years, primarily due to habitat loss, human activities, and, most alarmingly, intentional poisoning by farmers. Rewilding Europe is an organization that aims to repopulate the natural habitat of vultures through extensive captive breeding and habitat preservation. Birds have been successfully reintroduced to Bulgaria and Portugal, while consistent work will soon see them at home once again, in Croatia. As custodians of this planet, we must make every effort to safeguard the gifts nature has provided. The mistakes made in the past cannot be undone, and however difficult it may seem, there is always a means to rectify the errors in judgment left by our predecessors. Humanity's survival depends on the health and welfare of planet Earth and begins with developing a sense of respect for all living things.
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Xtinct Magazine is a global collaboration of people dedicating their lives to saving the planet from extinction.