Of the approximate 1000 sharks and rays known to man, most are threatened or endangered. Sharks play a critical role in keeping ecosystems healthy. From eradicating the weak and diseased prey from spreading, to keeping a balance of predators and maintaining species diversity. They are apex predators of the sea and their role as indicator species allow us to understand which ecosystems are being threatened and pushed towards the brink of extinction.
Shark finning is the act of cutting off the fins of sharks to use them in shark fin soup which is considered a delicacy. The soup made from chicken broth and thin filaments of shark fin. The reason for this practice is simply for status (to say you have money). A bowl of soup can cost approximately $100.00 and it is unremarkable. All over the world from South America, the United States, Spain, Asia and Africa - fisherman practice cutting off the fins of sharks and discarding the bodies into the ocean where the sharks drown as they cannot move. Fins can cost upwards of $150.00 for common sharks and endangered species can cost upwards of $20,000.00. Between 20-70 million sharks are killed every year all for a bowl of soup. Hong Kong , China is the largest shark fin importer in the world, and responsible for about half of the global trade but it still exists in places like the United States.
We need sharks more than they need us. Spread the word. Ban shark finning. Say no to shark fin soup. Say no to any shark product.
The Sumatran Rhino is the smallest living rhinoceros. It is a mega-herbivore (plant-eating), shaping the ecosystems they live in. They once roamed Southeast Asia from India to Thailand. Due to habitat loss and fragmentation as well as poaching they are now isolated to the small pockets of the Indonesia on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. It is estimated that there are as few as 30-80 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, nine of which are in captivity.
Poachers kill the rhinos for their horns which are made of keratin (same material that our fingernails and hair are made of). Traditional medicine in places like Vietnam and China believe that horns can treat illnesses but there is no sound scientific evidence. If this was truly beneficial, eating our fingernails and hair would prevent us from getting bone disease.
Furthermore, there are indeed organizations trying to help the species from extinction. Currently a group of organizations that include the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), National Geographic Society, Global Wildlife Conservation, the Indonesian government, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the International Rhino Foundation have created plan known as the Sumatran Rhino Rescue. The Sumatran Rhino Rescue goal is to find and relocate wild Sumatran Rhinos into a sanctuary where they can easily find each other and breed, as it is extremely hard to in the wild as there is so few.
Artwork and Writing – Caden Schaffner – student at TERRA Environmental Research Institute