Saving wildlife and wilderness is the responsibility of all thinking people. Greed and personal gain must not be permitted to decimate, despoil, and destroy the earth’s irreplaceable treasure, for its existence is essential to the human spirit and the well-being of the earth as a whole. All life has just one home – the earth – and we, as the dominant species, must take care of it.
–Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, Kenyan author and conservationist
Conservation is an integral component of Out of Africa Wildlife Park’s ongoing mission to preserve, protect, and provide for the animals, both in our care and abroad. As part of that mission, the park is home to many endangered species, including Siberian and Indochinese tigers, ring-tailed lemurs, and African lions. Like the Barbary lion and White Bengal, other park inhabitants are gone from the wild altogether, only to be found in captivity. In addition to species listed as endangered, many of our resident animals are listed as near threatened, meaning the population is at risk of becoming endangered. Patagonian cavy and gemsbok are just a few of the animals at the park currently listed.
Habitat destruction is broadly considered to be the primary threat to wildlife around the world. Habitat destruction has many faces. For example, many species live in areas destroyed for land development and farming by humans. Deforestation is another problem for endangered species, as animals are pushed from their natural habitat. Additionally, some species are targeted by hunters hoping to capitalize on an animal’s economic value for an assortment of reasons: fur, jewelry, meat, medicine, cosmetics, souvenirs, and so on.
While habitat destruction is considered the number one threat to wildlife, several other factors threaten species.
- Restricted Distribution or Isolated Habitation: An animal lives in only one small location globally, so that a single disaster could have a devastating impact on a species.
- Migration across International Lines: Cooperation from different governments is needed to protect many species whose migratory pattern takes them across country borders. This is particularly challenging in war-torn regions.
- Adversity to Humans: Many animal species find it difficult to live and breed when their environment becomes more populated by humans.
- Inability to Adapt: Environmental factors such as noise, air, water pollutants, chemicals, and so on may overcome an animal’s survivability.
- Long Gestation Period and Low Birth Rate: Some species, like the brown bear, take 5 to 7 years to reach sexual maturity, while the elephant has a 22-month gestation period, producing only one calf at a time.
- Invasive Species: Sometimes, a new species is a predator with no natural enemies and will overtake an existing animal population. A good example of this is the Burmese python in Southern Florida, where many have made their way to the Everglades. Since they have been known to eat endangered birds and alligators, these snakes present a new danger to an already fragile ecosystem.
- Pet Trade: Popular pet animals, such as parrots, often die during shipping or because of abuse and neglect.
Regardless of the many factors that threaten animals today, the bottom line is that once an animal is extinct, it’s gone forever. Species such as the black rhino are truly on the edge. Wildlife foundations, zoos, conservation organizations, and field researchers have worked together for many years to fight for their survival. Protecting endangered species, helping them breed, and encouraging the species’ survival are all efforts that we must take seriously.
Interested in how you can support wildlife conservation through Out of Africa Wildlife Park?
You can help support the park’s conservation efforts by becoming an Annual Member, participating in our Adopt-an-Animal program, and through Individual Giving. Your support will assist Out of Africa Wildlife Park and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to protect the African elephant and black rhinos in Africa and other species our programs are involved with.
Providing exceptional animal care, rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife, protecting and preserving wilderness and its denizens…all of these noble efforts are hollow if we do not teach future generations the value of all living creatures, great and small. This responsibility we all must share.