In the past decade, 160 animal species have been declared extinct, and for what reason? Because of the destruction of their habitats and because of human ignorance.

Elizabeth Ann, who is a cloned black-footed ferret, was born December 10, 2020. There have been many animals cloned, such as the famous Dolly the sheep, and many other animals, from cats and dogs to horses and cows. Ben Novak, the lead scientist of the biotechnology and nonprofit Revive & Restore wrote in The New York Times that he considers cloning to be, “another promising advance in the wider effort to retrieve an ever-growing number of species from the brink of extinction.” The goal is to bring back the only endangered north American ferret species from near extinction. However, one must ask, once black-footed ferrets are in a revived position, where will they go? And as for other endangered animals, if their restoration is successful, where will they go?

There is more to conservation than just cloning an animal. The animal needs its natural habitat; it needs its natural prey or vegetation; it needs to be free of encroaching human infrastructure to survive.

The story of the almost extinct ferret begins in the early 1900’s; there was a large-scale poisoning program to reduce the prairie dog population. The black-footed ferrets of these regions suffered because of these actions. The carnivorous ferrets were common predators of prairie dogs, and with the lack of them, the number of ferrets decreased to almost extinction. With their numbers slowly increasing and the cloning scheme, will scientists put them back in a dying ecosystem?

There is more to conservation than just cloning an animal. The animal needs its natural habitat; it needs its natural prey; it needs to be free of encroaching human infrastructure to survive.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared that 160 different species have gone extinct from 2010 to 2019, and if no one acts on this situation, the number will only grow bigger. “At this point our options are all about damage control,” said Jake Rice, a fisheries scientist who led an earlier report on biodiversity in an article about habitat destruction. The world has changed drastically and changing it back to how it was is impossible, so the only thing we can do is stop it from getting worse. But is cloning the only hope?

Malcom Tait, a managing editor of The Ecologist, writes an essay that, “we’ll need to recreate habitats that suit them… then we can genetically modify their surroundings to suit.” However, what does that mean to genetically recreate habitats? In an article about technology, the writer DJ Wardynski writes, “Technology has made life easier, more convenient, safer, and more enjoyable.” Humans rely too much on technology to fix mistakes and make life more convenient; it’s time to act on the consequences instead of trying to get technology to do it.

There are only about 300 black-footed ferrets that can be found in the wild, and about 400 are in captivity. To decide whether they should live or not should not be decided by the scientist. Their fate should be determined by all of us being aware of the issue and taking care of our planet. According to an article by National Geographic, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of trash in the ocean and that does not cover how much percentage of the world is turning into a landfill. Humans are responsible because of our careless consumption and disposal of the junk we buy; science is great, but we are responsible for taking care of these near extinct animals as well as the habitats they live in.

Black-footed ferrets aren’t the only animal in danger of extinction, orangutans and blue whales are also in danger of extinction, and if there is no action, the environment isn’t going to get any better. The issue of animal extinction is often brought up; however, nothing is done. The situation shouldn’t be this dire before people act on it. The numbers of these animals should never be this low and forests should never be destroyed. Humanity can’t rely on science to fix every mistake; everyone needs to do their part in protecting this planet, in protecting the wildlife, and in protecting everything all of humanity cares for.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.