Climate change, deforestation, sea level rise and mass extinction; the news often seems quite bleak when it comes to the environment. But our planet is also incredibly resilient, and a few simple steps can go a long way to protecting endangered species. At one point or another, these animals came close to extinction and then made a comeback.
1. Wood Storks
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A few decades ago, the wood stork was on the verge of extinction. Inland water had been diverted from the Everglades as a result of development. Fish stores have plummeted, as have stork numbers, says Simona Picardi, an assistant professor of ecology at Utah State University.
These massive birds feed by touch, which means they drop their beaks into the water and wade around until they find a fish. Once they do, their beak snaps shut, one of the fastest instinctive responses in the animal kingdom. But when there aren’t enough fish, they struggle to find food. “Wood storks are not efficient foragers. He’s a Goldielocks bird, which means that when the conditions aren’t ideal, he struggles to feed,” says Picardi.
In the 1970s, when they could not find food in the Everglades, wood storks expanded north and began nesting and feeding in the Carolinas. This led to an expansion of the population. And more importantly, a massive Everglades restoration project in 2000 helped restore natural water flow so that wood storks can once again hunt effectively in Florida waters. In 2014, the birds went from threatened to threatened as their numbers increased worldwide.
2. Humpback Whales
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By the 1980s, the population of humpback whales had plummeted, falling to around 1,200 in oceans around the world. But then a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1985 gave the humpback whale population an opportunity to recover. While whales still face the threat of entanglement in fishing gear as well as threats of collisions with boats, their numbers have increased globally, reaching around 135,000. They are no longer endangered. and healthy populations of humpback whales can be found around the world.
3. Green turtles
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At around 300 pounds, the green sea turtle is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle. It is an impressive species which, unlike other sea turtles, is mainly vegetarian. But in the 1990s, only a handful of green sea turtles could be found in the wild. Their numbers had dropped to around 50 after being trapped by fishing trawls as well as habitat destruction. But after a few decades of protection under the Endangered Species Act, green sea turtles have rebounded in numbers to some 13,000 observed nestings at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which was established for their protection in 1989.
4. Louisiana Black Bear
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According to Joseph Clark, an ecologist at the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, the Louisiana black bear population has rebounded in recent decades following wetland restoration projects in Louisiana that have turned farmland into wildlife habitat. bear. “Oak seedlings planted through the program provide shelter for bears and allow them to move between habitats,” he says.
This is important because bears are a “density-dependent species,” meaning they can only tolerate a certain number of animals in their territory. When they don’t have enough room, they end up decimating their own species in an effort to compete for food and mates. But the Louisiana black bear is also incredibly adaptable. Most notably, they were able to thrive in an ever-changing habitat. They have also learned to survive the rainy season by hibernating and raising their young in the trees until the flood waters recede.
5. American Alligator
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In the 1950s, the American alligator was nearly hunted to extinction so that its skin could be made into shoes and handbags. In 1967, it was placed on the endangered species list. But thanks to a team effort of state and federal agencies, as well as conservation groups, it made a comeback: Since then, North America’s largest reptile is no longer endangered, with a estimated at 5 million alligators distributed throughout the southeastern United States.
It can seem overwhelming to think that almost every species in the world is threatened by global climate change, hunting, or habitat destruction. But it’s good to know that we can make a difference by helping these same species bounce back – simple steps in habitat restoration and animal protection combined with the resilience of these amazing species. box make a difference. This is why it is essential for environmentalists and others to continue to fight for the protection of animals who need us more than ever.