What are some methods to conserve wildlife?
This is a complex subject, and depends on what sort of wildlife, where and in what habitat, but…The short answer is: remove humans.
Without humans, wildlife would be able to live as nature intended. Humans are currently causing the sixth mass extinction; it’s well underway, the first extinction not caused by natural events, and allegedly happening faster than previous mass extinctions.
However we can’t very well just remove ourselves from the face of the Earth, but we can mitigate some of the damage and try to help in whatever small ways we can, to hold back the tide as it were.
Because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of manmade causes of wildlife decline, it’s impossible to touch on them all – but here are just a few things we can do to help.
- Avoid using toxic chemicals on our garden/land. Insecticides kill the bugs that form the base of the food chain, leaving everyone above them without food. Artificial fertilisers and weedkillers have slowly destroyed the soil biome: without its nutrients, bacteria, fungi and microorganisms, the soil is depleted and cannot sustain the wild plants and tiny bugs that the food web needs.
- The above is a good reason to buy and support organic produce. Remember, everything was organic until around the middle of the 20th century… which was, incidentally, when wildlife decline started to snowball.
- Oppose the hunting and poaching of native wildlife. With every fibre of your being. If someone says ‘there are too many XYZs’, ask them: ‘too many for whom?’ And ‘why?’
- Reduce plastic. It’s killing basically everything, including us. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid altogether, but this will have to change in time – meanwhile, be an early adopter of the zero-waste lifestyle.
- Make room for nature. Wildlife used to live where you live now. But you can welcome it back in many ways, from planting wildlife-friendly plants outside to putting up specialised bird-boxes (different species have different needs), bat boxes, bug hotels, frog homes… putting out food, providing dead wood and leaves and long grass and hibernaculums, and (unless you have chickens inside, or alligators outside) ensuring there’s a hole in your fence so that wildlife can roam and forage without risking the roads. All of this is very rewarding; you’ll have plenty of busy little lives to watch in your own mini nature reserve!
- Pick up litter, and never drop it. It’s dangerous to wildlife and deadly when it reaches the sea – which happens when it washes down the storm-drain and into the nearest river.
- Climate-changey stuff. Many species – notably coral reefs and polar bears – are dying off due to climate change, so switch to renewable energy, travel less, use less electricity etc – we all know the drill, and every bit helps. Industry and governments need to do a lot more to catch up!
- Shop sustainably. Crops like palm oil, soya (most of which is fed to farm animals), coffee and cocoa are grown in tropical regions and land is often cleared illegally to grow them, killing off entire ecosystems. The orangutan is the furry face of this issue – driven to the brink of extinction by demand for palm oil – but the problem is much wider, and includes land cleared for grazing or growing food for farm animals (which in turn need far more cleared land than crops), as well as the open-cast mining of minerals to use in our electrical devices. It all equals less habitat for wildlife. Basically, shop mindfully rather than mindlessly; check labels, and aim for local, plant-based and sustainable as much as you feel is possible.
In the long run, I believe that nature will survive us, as it’s survived mass extinctions before. But I hope we can save as much of it as possible meanwhile, for the next generations to take better care of.