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A lonely planet

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This post was posted under the former name ‘Saving Our Planet’

Do we want to live in a world where many wonderful creatures whose homes are today’s woodlands and plains will be just memories, images to be contemplated, lonely specimens languishing in zoos?

The majority of the world’s primates are seriously threatened, with 60 per cent of all primate species globally predicted to vanish within between 25 and 50 years. The biggest threat is clearance of forests for agriculture, both by local farmers and by big agro-industrial producers of commodities such as palm oil and rubber. For example, the government of Aceh province, home to 80% of Sumatran orangutans, is planning to open up large areas of forest to oil-palm plantations, mining and new roads. 94% of Madagascar’s unique lemurs are endangered.

Wild felines are in serious trouble. Cheetah populations continue to decline across Africa. The National Academy of Sciences puts the number of remaining adult cheetahs at just 7,100.

The rare Asiatic cheetah is particularly endangered. An estimated 50 to 70 remain in Iran. That’s down from as many as 400 in the 1990s. Its numbers are plummeting due to poaching, the hunting of its main prey – gazelles – and encroachment on its habitat.

Only around 200 Arabian leopards remain in the wild.

Poaching, habitat loss and climate change threaten the survival of the enigmatic snow leopard. Temperatures are on the rise across the mountains of Central Asia. The Tibetan plateau has gotten 3 degrees warmer in the last 20 years. The changes impact the entire ecosystem: vegetation, water supplies, animals – and threaten to make up to a third of the snow leopard’s habitat unusable.

Wildlife conservation organizations are struggling to stem the tide of these looming disasters. They need our help, if wildlife is to be more than a memory.

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