Endangered Biodiversity in Mexico

The United Mexican States are characterized by their diverse ecosystems, and are very rich in terms of their flora and fauna, while many of the organisms are endemic and exclusive to that zone. However, the inhabitants of these ecosystems are sometimes subject to neglect, excessive hunting and threatening conditions. These factors have caused many animals and plants to become vulnerable, threatened, endangered, and in some cases even extinct.

We should remember that in order for the ecosystems to be in a suitable state, it’s necessary that its organic and inorganic elements be in balance. If some being or factor undergoes some type of alteration (absence, mutation, decrease or increase) in the long run, the whole habitat will suffer from it, and in turn, be at risk of disappearing.

Species in Mexico

The list of animals, plants, and even fungi that need protection in Mexico is enormous, and currently consists of a little more than 200 species. Those already extinct in our country consist of approximately 30 different animals and an undetermined number of flora. Undoubtedly the most famous of those that have already disappeared is the Mexican wolf, but we can also cite the Imperial Woodpecker, the Passenger Pigeon, the Trumpeter Swan, various fish (Bluntnose Shiner, Phantom Shiner, Rio Grande Silvery Minnow, etc.), the Elf Owl, and the Caribbean Monk Seal.

Of the species that are endangered, we must mention that they are classified according to the current state of their population, the extent of their habitat and other factors such as: vulnerability, endangered or critically endangered (being vulnerability the least affected state, and critically endangered the most affected state). Among the list of the threatened species, the following stand out: the manatee, the jaguar, the black bear, the Coahuilan Box Turtle, the Socorro Dove, the Volcano Rabbit, the tree frog, the Cozumel Island Raccoon, the Short-Crested Coquette, the crocodile, the Harpy Eagle, the Antelope, and the Tapir.

The Official Mexican Standard (NOM) is actually the entity who establishes the types of environmental protection, in addition to the fact that it is precisely in this entity (and in its several updates) where we can find the official list of protected species. In the sections related to ecological matters, we find that the list indicates that the most threatened beings, due mostly to illegal trafficking, are birds (about 75), followed by fish (approximately 70), and then mammals (43 theoretically).

However, we should think of these facts as an estimation of reality, because as previously mentioned, there are more than 30 extinct species. One must bear in mind that oftentimes, when one species disappear, it can take as many as ten more along with it, some of which were never cataloged or discovered.

Why are they at risk?

Practically everyone is familiar with the reasons for which living beings are impacted: the main factor being the destruction, modification and pollution of their habitat. Ecosystems are often destroyed so that we reap the benefits. Forests and jungles are cut down without anyone even bothering with reforestation, which also causes erosion and exposure of the organisms to the elements and predators. In some cases, the need to expand crops and pasture land also causes the destruction of habitats. Likewise, industrialization gives rise to dire consequences for that zone if it’s done carelessly: there are many factories that continue dumping their waste directly into the environment.

Another factor that is known to reduce biodiversity is excessive hunting and capture. In many cases, when a species is hunted, we tend not to respect its reproductive periods and kill without mercy. As if that weren’t enough, there is a very lucrative black market on demand for exotic animals for decorative purposes (just remember the zoos inside the residences of drug dealers.) It is a frightening fact, that not even 30% of captured animals make it to their destinations, alive.

Efforts for protection

Obviously, the first step in protecting an endangered species is to detect the fact that it’s threatened. The work of biologists here is fundamental. After that, the brakes are put on the processes that are reducing its numbers, and it’s cataloged as a protected species to prevent it from continuing in the process. Sometimes entire zones are declared “protected areas” for the conservation of all of the living beings living there. The entrance to humans and industry is restricted, and in some cases prohibited definitely. However, eco-tourism exists to appreciate these places, so that the zone can be visited without undergoing changes.

Even so, there are many things that we still need to do, and as beings who are aware of our actions, we should make the effort not only to preserve the environment, but also to assist in it’s recovery!

Article produced by the Editorial Team of "Explorando Mexico".
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