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Essay

Phoenix Chandra

Year-Prize: The 13th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Time for Nature

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BIODIVERSITY LOSS AND OUR FUTURE: IS IT TOO LATE TO SAVE THEM?

 

Phoenix Chandra (Indonesia)
Eco-generation Prize

 

 

When I was a kid, I usually spent my weekend watching my favorite movie that I never get bored of it until now, “Lion King”, which has many wonderful background scenes of natural habitat with various wildlife in it. But, the most iconic thing about this movie is “Circle of Life”, it starts with a born of lion cub, ends with the born of his next generation. I imagined how beautiful the nature was, a perfect cycle of family tree. Sadly, as I grow up, I realize the reality isn’t as beautiful as it looks like in the movie. Many of them have been destroyed before having continued cycle of their population. Massive destruction of natural habitats around the world that happens unnaturally influences whole ecosystems and biodiversity on earth, reducing its populations (Pimm et al. 2014; Crother et al. 2015).
Perhaps many of us are asking the same question, who cause this rapid biodiversity loss? Humans. We are one of the biggest threats to nature loss. We force and accelerate nature to change the way we want while on the other hand, others species except us can’t adapt that fast. Some of the main causes are mentioned below, as deforestation and illegal wildlife trade are on the lead:
1. Deforestation. People wipe out natural habitats for every second all over the year, leave the forest with only around 54% from total forest area in the world (Crowther et al. 2015). According to FAO & UNEP 2020, Indonesia has 2% of total forest area globally (92 million hectares) and is one of the top 10 largest forest area in the world, but unfortunately, 2.4 million hectares has been vanished (Wijaya et al. 2019). The impacts are plenty of plants species will be reduced along with animals are missing their place to live. The impact? They search for new home and eventually find empty places left near humans. Interaction between wildlife and humans becomes closer, makes it easier to spread zoonotic disease. The most recent example that we experience it globally is COVID-19 pandemic that has no cure until now (Allen et al. 2017; Corlett et al. 2020).
2. Poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Hundreds of wildlife species have been extinct along with extinction rate over 100 extinctions per 1 million species per year since 1900 (Pimm et al. 2014). Many of them are also labelled as critically endangered species such as pangolins, Sumatran tigers, and Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia itself (Egan et al. 2019).
3. Invasive species. Introducing new species that is not a native one from that habitat will affect the balance of ecosystem, especially species with the same niche such as prey or place to live, ends up with competition to extinction between one species and another (Zari 2014).
4. Pollution. Water pollution caused by acid rain because of industry and vehicles gas emission will poison river and other water source such as water drainage. The impact is, wildlife and also people could be poisoned by acid water, plants will die too. Not just that, air pollution cause greenhouse effect that will cause further problem, global warming which also affects the ecosystem (Zari 2014).
Biodiversity loss is a global problem that we face together. What should we do to help recover and slow it down? There are some simple things we can do, I come with idea of “C Trinity” that stands for Care, Call, and Contribute.
1. Care – Start from the simplest act, care for wildlife and nature around us. Even people who have no experience in it can do and help reduce biodiversity loss. There are many examples of caring for nature, like let plants and animals live that way, reduce carbon footprints, and don’t release animals that don’t belong in that place. That’s just a start, but imagine if all of us do the same thing, there won’t be any species killed or forests to destroy.
2. Call – We can help reduce biodiversity loss by calling for actions to save them. Start from sharing posts, videos, and other educational information to public about what’s the roles of biodiversity along with causes and impacts of their loss. Besides, ask friends and people around us to ride bikes or public transports and do not buy exotic pets.
3. Contribute – The last one is we can contribute physically through petition or volunteering, or economically to public environmental events supporting to reduce biodiversity loss. As example, in Indonesia, some actions that have been done are reforestation up to 45% of forest loss in 2018 (Wijaya et al. 2019) and ban wildlife illegal trades such as tiger fur and shark fin in some provinces (Khairani et al. 2019). Those events are done by government and some NGOs in Indonesia such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia, International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Indonesia, and Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), together with supporters like myself as proud member of JAAN supporter.
Biodiversity is like “Circle of Life” story. The loss of many species will interrupt an ecosystem balance because each of the living beings has its own role. When one of the character isn’t in that cycle anymore, there won’t be circle. There are still many things to be done. We may not be able to fix this alone, but together, we can do this. It’s not too late to save them and ourselves to make good changes for brighter future. Start from ourselves, by doing simple things like “C Trinity” to preserve this “Circle of Life” cycle for a brighter future.

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