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Essay on Endangered Species

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Example Essay on Endangered Species

When we hear of the term species, a class of individuals having common attributes and designated by a common name comes to mind. However, when the term endangered is used in conjunction with species, this gives us a different perspective, as well as negative. Thus, an endangered species is a species threatened by extinction. The Puerto Rican Parrot falls under this category. This parrot has seen an extravagant population decrease over the last five hundred years. However, there stands a great chance for its recovery through captive breeding programs.

Before the invasion of the Columbus and other Europeans in 1493, the Puerto Rican Parrot was once a flourishing species throughout the forested regions of Puerto Rico, as well as its surrounding islands of Culebra, Vieques, and Mona (Pasquier 134). Around 1493, there were an estimated 100,000 parrots that existed (N. Snyder, et al., eds. 117). As a result to the European invasion, man hunted the Puerto Rican Parrot as food, and settled farmers shot the birds in order to protect their crops. The wild population for nestlings was in great demand. Thus, the Puerto Rican Parrot was indeed a popular pet. Above all, the most pressing factor that contributed to the decline of the Puerto Rican Parrot was the near island-wide removal of its original habitat (Pasquier 134-135).

Today, the Puerto Rican Parrot is critically endangered and is undoubtedly one of the rarest birds in the world. Efforts to prevent extinction of the Puerto Rican Parrot began when it was officially deemed endangered on March 11, 1967 (Velasquez 17).

Representative Acevedo-Vila (D-Puerto Rico) holds high regard for the Puerto Rican Parrot:
“The Puerto Rican parrot is one of the most important cultural symbols in Puerto Rico, representing our environmental and wildlife richness. Unfortunately, in 1967, the Puerto Rican parrot was placed on the list of endangered species, and since then, great efforts have been underway to ensure that it does not cease to exist.” (Pombo)

In 1975, within all of the rainforest of the Luquillo Mountains, only thirteen wild parrots were recorded to be in existence. In addition, only eight parrots were in captivity for breeding purposes. By 1989, the wild parrot population had since increased to 48 birds. However, on September 18, 1989, Hurricane Hugo swept across Puerto Rico, reducing the wild parrot population to approximately 20-22 birds. Seven years later, by August of 1996, the wild parrot population had again increased to 48, with the captive population at 87 (N. Snyder, et al., eds. 117).

The most recent population survey of the Puerto Rican Parrot took place at the end of March 2002. According to the survey, 144 captive parrots including 16 nestlings were held in aviaries. The remainder consisted of 21-24 wild parrots. The wild parrot population is very low and suggests that either the population is declining rapidly, or the parrots are dispersing within or outside of undetermined sites of the Caribbean National Forest (United States).

Fortunately, the Puerto Rican Parrot population does seem capable of recovering (Revkin F1). The House of Representatives approved $1.7 million for its recovery. The funds have been put forth toward the construction of a new aviary facility in Puerto Rico (Pombo). The Parrot’s habitat, now entirely confined within the boundaries of the Caribbean National Forest, is protected from most threats. This is made possible by an intensive program of research and conservation that began in 1968. This untitled program was founded by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

A captive breeding program began in 1970. Currently, the parrots involved in captive breeding are comprised of good genetic diversity and genetically represent the wild population. The first captive produced nestling was born in 1979. This nestling, along with several other captive-produced parrots, has been used to bolster wild production.

This is done by transporting nestlings from aviaries to wild nests or releasing mature parrots into the wild. As a result to the efforts of captive breeding, the Puerto Rican Parrot populace has significantly increased since 1970 (N. Snyder, et al., eds. 118).

In order for the Puerto Rican Parrot populace to increase steadily, not only does the general public need to support captive breeding, but our political leaders must do so as well. “Captive breeding works. It is critical that we support programs that will succeed in the recovery of endangered species,” says Representative Pombo of the U.S. House of Representatives (Pombo). Therefore, the ability of the Puerto Rican parrot to expand its population in a variety of natural and human-altered environments should not be underestimated and may be the key to its recovery.

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