A striking Indian Tiger prowling the fields. Image Credit: BBC
At Artisans & Adventurers, we find inspiration in nature and the natural environments of places around the world that we visit. The sad truth is that many of the beautiful, global environments and species that inspire our creativity are at great risk of extinction. With Endangered Species Day on Friday 15th May, we wanted to shine a light on a few of the world's most incredible animals and plants, asking how they have become endangered and explaining ways in which we can help stop their rapid decline.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Endangered Species Day, it was created to provide an opportunity for people of all ages to celebrate and learn how to protect declining species.
Tigers are the most striking big cats and they certainly provide us with a lot of inspiration with their bright orange fur and bold stripes. Unfortunately, there are now only around 3,900 tigers left in the wild. Wild tiger numbers have dropped by more than 95% since the beginning of the 20th century. Tigers used to roam across most of Asia but are now restricted to a tiny fraction of their original habitat range as 93% of historical tiger lands have disappeared, primarily due to expanding human activity. The clearing of forests for agriculture and timber as well as the building of new road networks and other developments pose very real threats to tiger habitats, they now live in small, scattered groups which leads to a higher risk of inbreeding and makes them more vulnerable to poachers. Poaching is the most immediate threat for the wild tiger population as every part of a tiger, from whisker to tail, is traded in illegal wildlife markets for large sums of money to be used in traditional medicine, folk remedies or as status symbols.
Due of the incredible conservation work of a huge number of charities, organisations and individuals, for the first time in conservation history, tiger numbers are on the increase. To keep their numbers on the rise, they need us. It is incredibly important for us to protect them and help to keep their environments abundant. In the wild, tigers prey on herbivores such as deer, without enough tigers hunting, herbivores can overgraze and damage the land, disrupting the balance of the land. Local people in turn depend on a healthy environment for food, water and other resources.
So what can we do to help? Firstly, make sure to never support the illegal wildlife trade, do not purchase products online or abroad that are made from endangered species - if you are unsure of something’s origin simply do not buy it. Secondly, you can donate to a whole host of different tiger conservation charities that work tirelessly to end illegal trade and poaching as well as to protect tigers' natural habitats. Some of these charities include Panthera
, TIGER Awareness
, Save Tigers Now
and Born Free
A valley of majestic baobab trees in Africa. Image Credit: BBC
It’s not just animals that suffer endangerment and extinction, plant species are also disappearing across the globe. The baobab tree, also known as Africa’s ‘tree of life’, is becoming an endangered species despite its incredible capability of living for thousands of years. Baobabs are some of the largest trees in the world, with trunks that can reach over 30cm in circumference. There are 9 species of baobab in the world and unfortunately 3 species of these incredible trees are endangered, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The natural habitat of the baobab tree is rapidly disappearing due to agriculture and human developments. Climate change is having a huge effect on the hardy baobab tree, creating extreme weather conditions and environmental changes. Baobab fruit has been popularised in western countries as a ‘superfood’, leading to over farming and many of the large animal species that were responsible for eating the baobab fruit and thus carrying its seeds have become endangered or extinct, meaning the baobab tree is unable to spread, limiting the distribution of the plant species. It is believed that some baobab species will not survive the next century.
The greatest way we can help to protect the baobab and many other plant species around the world is to reduce our environmental impact. By reducing our footprint we can help to slow down the environmental effects that are damaging the natural habitats of these plants and many others like them. An important step is to use wood and paper products wisely, buy FSC certified products, try to reuse paper where possible and always recycle. Another easy way to support plant life is to use the internet search engine Ecosia which plants a tree for every search you make. Donate to organisations such as the Global Trees Campaign who work to protect tree populations all around the world by implementing conservation projects for over 100 threatened tree species. You can read more about their baobab conservation project here.
Bee and Amy on a previous trip to Elefantastic Elephant Sanctuary, Jaipur.
Did you know, elephants are the largest land mammals on earth!? Another fun fact about elephants is that both male and female African elephants grow tusks and each individual can either be left or right-tusked like we are left or right-handed! These fascinating animals were once common throughout Africa and Asia, however their wild population has declined significantly during the 20th century. While some populations of African elephants are expanding, primarily in southern Africa, numbers are continuing to fall dramatically in other areas, particularly in central Africa and parts of East Africa. With an estimated 415,000 elephants left on the continent, the species is regarded as vulnerable, although certain populations are unfortunately being poached towards extinction. Asian elephant numbers have dropped by at least 50% over the last three generations, and they’re still in rapid decline today, with roughly 40,000 left in the wild, this species of elephant is officially classified as endangered. In recent years, at least 20,000 elephants have been killed in Africa each year for their tusks which are then sold on the illegal ivory market. In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the international commercial trade in elephant ivory, poaching rates dropped following the action, but began to surge again around 2010, due to renewed consumer interest in purchasing elephant ivory, largely in Asia. A huge milestone came in 2018 when China, which was by far the largest market for elephant ivory, banned the domestic trade of elephant ivory.
Today, the greatest threat to African elephants is wildlife crime, while the greatest threat to Asian elephants is habitat loss. Elephants are continuously losing their habitats and ancient migratory routes due to expanding human developments such as agriculture and the construction of infrastructure such as roads, canals, and fences. There are some signs of hope, major elephant populations in Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have remained stable or are slowly increasing, meaning the conservation efforts being made are working. If you want to help protect these beautiful, endangered creatures, here’s a few things you can do. Try to limit your palm oil use and make sure to purchase certified sustainable palm which can help to limit the conversion of Asian elephant habitats into palm oil plantations. Be mindful of industries that use elephants for entertainment such as circuses, zoos or elephant riding experiences abroad. Make a difference by boycotting circuses that use animals and by avoiding zoos that offer insufficient space to allow elephants to live in social groups. You could also consider donating to one of the many wonderful charities that do incredibly important work to help save these magnificent animals, such as International Elephant Foundation
, African Wildlife Foundation, Amboseli Trust for Elephants
or Elefantastic Elephant Sanctuary
Though it can be hard to hear of the plight of these incredible species, it is important for us to hear their stories. Human interference is at the heart of many troubles that these species face, so it is vital that we play our part and try our best to reverse the negative impact that we have inadvertently had on the natural world. We can all do our bit to help protect these beautiful animals and trees, every action truly does make a difference.
Our Tiger Sovereign Jewellery Collection
"Panthera is the only organization in the world devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s wild cats. Their team of leading biologists and law enforcement experts develop innovative strategies to address the dire threats facing cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards, and tigers.
They're on the front lines, fighting to stop poaching, prevent conflict with people, conserve wild cat habitats, and reduce unsustainable legal hunting. These proven strategies don't just protect wild cats, they also protect the cat's habitats and natural landscapes. These wild places are crucial to our planet’s health and our own."