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Wildlife conservation is the practice of protecting wild species and their habitats in order to prevent species from going extinct. Major threats to wildlife include habitat destruction/degradation/fragmentation, overexploitation, poaching, pollution and climate change. The IUCN estimates that 27,000 species of the ones assessed are at risk for extinction. Expanding to all existing species, a 2019 UN report on biodiversity put this estimate even higher at a million species. It's also being acknowledged that an increasing number of ecosystems on Earth containing endangered species are disappearing. To address these issues, there have been both national and international governmental efforts to preserve Earth's wildlife. Prominent conservation agreements include the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). There are also numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) dedicated to conservation such as the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International.
Habitat destruction and fragmentation
Habitat destruction decreases the number of places wildlife can live in. Habitat fragmentation breaks up a continuous tract of habitat, often dividing large wildlife populations into several smaller ones. Human-caused habitat loss and fragmentation are primary drivers of species declines and extinctions. Key examples of human-induced habitat loss include deforestation, agricultural expansion, and urbanization. Habitat destruction and fragmentation can increase the vulnerability of wildlife populations by reducing the space and resources available to them and by increasing the likelihood of conflict with humans. Moreover, destruction and fragmentation create smaller habitats. Smaller habitats support smaller populations, and smaller populations are more likely to go extinct.It's estimated that, because of human activities, current species extinction rates are about 1000 times greater than the background extinction rate (the 'normal' extinction rate that occurs without additional influence) . According to the IUCN, out of all species assessed, over 27,000 are at risk of extinction and should be under conservation. Of these, 25% are mammals, 14% are birds, and 40% are amphibians. However, because not all species have been assessed, these numbers could be even higher. A 2019 UN report assessing global biodiversity extrapolated IUCN data to all species and estimated that 1 million species worldwide could face extinction. Yet, because resources are limited, sometimes it's not possible to give all species that need conservation due consideration. Deciding which species to conserve is a function of how close to extinction a species is, whether the species is crucial to the ecosystem it resides in, and how much we care about it.
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