Our Problem

We know God put humans in charge of animals and we know God cares about animals.  Now let's find out how these animals are doing.  Are they abundant, like God intended?  Let's compare the number of animals we currently have to the number of animals we had in the past.  Let's compare the gift of abundant animals God gave us to our current management of God's creation.

Let's take a look at animal populations and see how they are doing.

The data used in the graphs and table below comes from a variety of sources found on the internet, and this data is far from perfect.  Some of the data contradict other data, and that can make knowing the true numbers difficult.  For instance, one website states there are 5,042 black rhinoceroses, but another website lists the West African black rhinoceros as extinct.  This is a big difference.  Which is it?

Could it be, that they are counting and considering two different species of rhinos?  Yes, it is possible, because the data is often unclear or does not specify if the numbers are for white, black, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos, or all of them combined.

This makes reading the data very confusing, and anyone trying to help the animals is losing out on a clear picture of which animal populations need the most help and what can be done for them.  Also, a lot of the data is not dated.  This makes it harder to understand, organize and use, as well as harder to determine whether it is current.

Because data found on the internet is presented without clarifying if the animal numbers are in the wild, or in captivity, or both, understanding the true nature of the problem becomes more difficult.  This is one of the reasons that dwindling animal populations have not been addressed sooner.  Another glaring problem with internet data on animal numbers is that much of the data is missing, unrecorded or incomplete.  This is frustrating and surprising for such an important subject.

Fortunately, organizations like Trinity Cares Inc. are here to help and to work to end animal extinction.  We love God's creation, and we know that many Christians love it, too.  The key is to focus that love in a meaningful way that will help increase wild animal numbers and conserve nature.  In order to do that, it is very important to understand as much as possible about the current state of the animal population.

Our animal numbers should be tracked and updated as often and as seriously as the stock market is tracked.  It is our job as Christians and humans to care for the animals and to be good stewards of the wonderful creation that God has given us.  If we do not even have a basic count of our animals, at least not available for the public to find on the internet, knowing that they are in danger and seeing which ones need the most help becomes complicated.  That can lead to things not getting done, but changes can be made that will help the animal population see more strength in the future.

Do universities, biologists, and agencies aimed at protecting animals have data they can share?  Are there other means to find this information?  It's possible, and Christians may want to explore these avenues as they work to end animal extinction.  We do not like to think humans have failed at their job of caring for animals, because it is not a failure unless humanity stops trying and animals go extinct.

But tracking animal numbers is work that humans need to take seriously, so they can correct the inevitable extinction that may be coming for many animals.  Based on the struggles with finding available and reliable data, the numbers in the graphs and tables are approximate rather than precise.  When confronted with more than one estimate or number for a specific species, the data with the most current date was used.  If a range was provided, a figure in the middle was used.  The current numbers for these animal populations may be much lower.

National Geographic, for example, describes data problems with tiger numbers seen below.

Each country uses different methods to count and categorize animals, and some of the methods that are used do not provide a strong level of reliability.  As an example, Russia's researchers count Siberian tigers' pugmarks (footprints).  This is the same technique that led to India's pre-2008 overestimates.  In Nepal, the most current data is from 2015, and Sumatra's counts date from 2011.  Last year, India's foremost tiger biologist and Asia's director of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Ullas Karanth, contested the mathematical models used to estimate the tiger population in his country, which cast doubt on the 30 percent rise in numbers.

The graph below shows a major decline in African Elephants.  These animals need our help and our support, and we need to make sure we love God's creation and end animal extinction.  Since God has made us responsible for the animals we need to take that responsibility seriously.  

African Elephant numbers are far from where they should be.  In the 1500's there were nearly 24 million of these beautiful creatures.  Now the estimation is down to only a half million.  Many of which were orphaned as young elephants when they witnessed the death of their families.  How will they learn the wisdom of the elephant, like finding water holes and communicating with other elephants 100 miles away without their families to teach them?  Their whole culture is being destroyed and it must be stopped.  Hopefully this bad news for African Elephants ends here and does not threaten the Asian Elephants, let's see. 

Numbers for Asian Elephants are even bleaker than the African Elephant numbers.  Having low numbers means one problem with disease, famine, flood or another issue can signal extinction.  Unfortunately, these two types of elephants are not the only animals who are facing peril and the threat of becoming extinct.

Lions are struggling, as well, and they aren't the only big cats to be at risk.  What about cheetahs are they having the same problem?

Bornean Orangutans?  The same problem.  They just do not have the numbers they used to, and the numbers they do have are getting smaller and smaller.

Digging deeper into the number of animals shows that all is not lost, yet.  The Black Rhinoceros is the first species to show an increase in its numbers.  The increase is small, but even a small increase is better than none at all.  There were 2,410 of these rhinoceroses in 1985, and in 2015 there were 5,042 of them.  This is most likely in captivity, but that means some people were doing their Christian duty and making sure these beautiful creatures were being cared for and protected.  Babies were allowed to grow up there was enough safety and security for that.  It's a wonderful thing to see and provides some encouragement where there has been little to celebrate.

What was making the rhino numbers go down, and what is keeping them from increasing their numbers in the wild?

This graph from nonsenseinterpreted.blogspot.com shows as poaching increases, the numbers of rhinos decrease.  Poaching is a serious part of the problem and one that makes it harder to increase wild animal numbers and conserve nature.  While most of the focus has been on Africa, it is not only the animals there that are having problems with extinction.

Taking a look at animals outside of Africa, like the Red Wolf in the southeastern United States, shows that there is estimated to be only 40 wolves in the wild.  How will the species survive?  Most likely it will not.  Data on the Red Wolf shows that it was actually extinct in the wild in 1980, but reintroduced in 1987 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in North Carolina.  Red wolves are still struggling, and even though they are under our care, they may not make it much longer.  Let's see if the fox are doing any better. 

Every year, the number of foxes goes down.  It's not a healthy or sustainable trend, and it does not show that we love God's creation.  Land animal numbers continue to fall.  Has anyone taken a look at the oceans lately?  Let's head over there and see what we can find out.  We'll start with the Leatherback Turtles in the Eastern Pacific.

Even the turtle numbers are way down.  What about Blue Whales?  Maybe they're doing better.

It looks like the whales aren't healthy, either.  Their numbers are way down, as well.  Next, is a table with the estimated number of animals, popular enough, to have data on.  It compares past animal numbers to the present.   

 

          Past Dates                           Species                                     Current Dates around 2018

10 million in 1900African Elephants480 thousand
100 thousand in 1960African Lions23 hundred
70 thousand in 1970Black RhinoFive thousand / 5,042
200 thousand in 1900Blue Whales2 thousand
100 thousand in 1900Cheetahs7 thousand / 7,100
230 thousand in 1900Orangutans112 thousand / 112,200
91 thousand in 1982Leatherback Turtles2 thousand / 2,300
5 thousand in 1910Mountain Gorilla4 hundred / 450
100 thousand in 1900Tigers3 thousand / 3,200
2 thousand in 1982Yangtze Finless Porpoise1 thousand

 

The numbers of these animals are going down.  There is little doubt that humans are not maintaining what God gave us.  Too many animals are dying, and entire species are on the brink of extinction.  It's time to pull them back from that brink before it goes any further.

In order to understand how to help, we need to know what is making the animal numbers decline.  Fortunately, that's one area where the internet has sufficient data.  There are a lot of natural causes, including flood, fires, volcanic eruptions, diseases, ice ages, gigantic crashing meteors, and loss of food or habitat.  But there are also human causes for animal extinction such as destruction of habitat, over-hunting, over-collecting and the use of pesticides and pollutants.  Poaching falls under the over-hunting, with roughly 100 African Elephants are being killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts. 

Not all species numbers are crashing like those listed above, but too many are declining with the exception of humans and their livestock.

  • Global Human Population at the time of Jesus Birth was 300 Million
  • Global Human Population on 4/29/18 was 7.5 Billion (7,618,470,277)

The number of humans is going up a lot, and it's going up fast, too.  Getting our heads around the numbers is difficult.  A billion is one thousand times larger than a million; so it takes one thousand million to make a billion.   

Becky McCray at www.smallbizsurvival.com explains:

  • 1 million seconds equals 11 and 1/2 days
  • 1 billion seconds equals 31 and 3/4 years
  • 1 trillion seconds equals 31,710 years

 

The increase in the human population difference is huge!  The number of livestock animals is also increasing, as humans breed them for food.  As the numbers of humans increase, so do the numbers of livestock animals as shown in the below table provided by Worldwatch Institute.  But what kind of life do these animals have?

 

Let's compare the number of Livestock Animals to the number of Wild Animals.

As happy as many Christians would be to see the animal numbers increase, rather than decrease, we don't all think trading wild animals for the lives of livestock animals is what God had in mind.  God's system of nature is based on balance, and when our wild animal numbers decrease and our livestock animal numbers increase it changes the balance.  Our God who loves sparrows did not ask humans to exchange one type of animal for another, but to care for all animals.  Far too many animal population numbers are plummeting toward extinction, and as caretakers of the natural world, humans need to prioritize saving these animals before we lose them forever.  The low number of animal populations today, when compared to the past, is startling.  Seeing it in black and white comes as a shock to many people because they do not realize how serious the decline in the animal population has become.  Not only is the state of the animal population sad, but it is not sustainable.  God put humans in charge of the animals, and those animals are disappearing right before our eyes.

Some animals are granted a second chance of survival when humans intervene before extinction.  This generally happens when humans recognize a species cannot survive because their numbers are too low, but why does it have to get to this point before something is done?  An example of this, is when humans create sanctuaries for animals with very low species numbers, like the African Wild Dogs.  This is a last-ditch effort to save a species, but something should be done well before the numbers get that low.

Many animals are already extinct in the wild.  The animals listed below are only present in captive breeding and other conservatory facilities.  The following is an analysis by World Atlas of animals that have been listed on the IUCN Red List as to be extinct in the wild.

Butterfly Split Fin

Baxter's Toad

Pinzon Giant Tortoise

Hawaiian Crow

Cyprinodont Alverez

La Palma Pupfish

Pere David's Deer

Guam Rail

Catarina Pupfish

Alagoas Curassow

Kihansi Spray Toad

Black Softshell Turtle

Scimitar-Horned Oryx

Golden Skiffia

Socorro Dove

     Guam Kingfisher (in photo below)   

Human attempts to save a species can often fail as it did for the Passenger Pigeon, but that does not mean that we should not try.  The Passenger Pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America and possibly the world, with an estimated population of at least three billion birds in the early 1800's.  Their flocks were so big they were said to darken the sky for days as they flew over.   Yet by 1900 they were extinct in the wild, and on September 1, 1914, the last Passenger Pigeon died at the Cincinnati Zoo.  The species went from extraordinarily populous to extinct in a human lifespan, due to people hunting them.

Passenger Pigeon

The death of billions of Passenger Pigeons is not what God would ask of us.  We don't want to stand before God someday and say that we killed all of his Passenger Pigeons, West African Rhinos, and all of the other species for no reason other than greed, indifference or ignorance.  We can and we must do better.

Wouldn't it be wiser to start doing our job of caring for God's creation?  Extinction should not be an option, so we have to do better.  We have to do much better.  Extinction means never coming back.  God's creation is being pushed into extinction and this is not what God asked for when he gave us dominion over the animals.  We are supposed to care for God's creation, not destroy it.  We need to end extinction and save the lives of animals and God's system of nature.  If we won't do that, we will fail at the job God gave us.

An estimated 1,000 species have gone extinct in the past 500 years.  Based on this, the normal rate of extinction for natural causes is calculated to be 1 to 5 species annually.  But human activity accounts for 99 percent of the risk for threatened species.  Within our lifetime, human activities like burning fossil fuels and destruction of habitats has increased the extinction rate between 1,000 to 10,000.  Dozens of animals are going extinct every day.  To make things worse, when one species goes extinct, it leads to another.  An example of this is backyard poisons killing bugs, which decreases food for birds and this pattern continues.  The number of extinctions will snowball in the coming decades as ecosystems unravel.  Many thousands of species are at risk of disappearing forever.  At this rate, we may lose 30 to 50 percent of all species by mid-century, according to Center for Biological Diversity.com.

Here are the animals on the Critically Endangered List for 2018

Amur Leopard

Black Rhinoceros

Bornean Orangutan

Cross River Gorilla

Eastern Gorilla

Hawksbill Turtle

Javan Rhinoceros

Malayan Tiger

Mountain Gorilla

Orangutan

Saola

South China Tiger

Sumatran Elephant

Sumatran Orangutan

Sumatran Rhinoceros

Sumatran Tiger

Vaquita

Western Lowland Gorilla

Yangtze Finless Porpoise

Endangered Animals List for 2018

African Wild Dog

Amur Tiger

Asian Elephant

Bengal Tiger

Black-footed Ferret

Blue Whale

Bluefin Tuna

Bonobo

Borneo Pygmy Elephant

Chimpanzee

Fin Whale

Galapagos Penguin

Ganges River Dolphin

Green Turle

Hector's Dolphin

Humphead Wrasse

Indian Elephant

Indochinese Tiger

Indus River Dolphin

North Atlantic Right Whale

Red Panda

Sea Lions

Sea Turtle

Sei Whale

Sri Lankan Elephant

Tiger

Whale

Whale Shark

Is it not, shocking and sad to see so many animals in harms way?  These animals did nothing to deserve this crisis.  Only we can fix it.  A world without these animals is not what God intended, what will we do, what will the next generations do, what will God do?  What will you say to your grandchildren when they ask where these animals are, what will you say to God?  It is a burden and concern we all need to carry and address.  You'll find the Yangtze Finless Porpoise on the list above and below.  That is exactly what we don't want to happen.  There is no doubt a big change needs to happen to end animal extinction.  Look at what has already happened.

        10 Animals Presumed Extinct in the last Decade                 Laura Moss 10/10/16

Baiji Dolphin or Yangtze River Dolphin:  China's Baiji Dolphin, or Yangtze River Dolphin, is listed as critically endangered, but scientists say it may already be extinct.  In 2006, scientists from the Baiji foundation traveled up the Yangtze River for more than 2,000 miles equipped with optical instruments and underwater microphones; but were unable to detect any surviving dolphins.  The foundation published a report on the expedition and declared the animal functionally extinct, meaning too few potential breeding pairs remained to ensure the species' survival.

Black-faced Honeycreeper:  The black-faced honeycreeper, or po'o-uli, is endemic to Hawaii's island of Maui and is listed as "critically endangered/possibly extinct."  Of the three known birds discovered in 1998, one died in captivity in 2004 and the remaining two have not been seen since that year.  Scientists say the species may already be extinct, but surveys in all areas of potential habitat are needed, to confirm this.  If any have survived, the population would be extremely small.  Habitat destruction and the rapid spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes are thought to be responsible for the species' decline.

Holdridge's Toad:  The Holdridge's Toad was a species endemic to the rainforests of Costa Rica.  While it was declared extinct in 2004 because the animal has not been seen since 1986, surveys in 2012 resulted in the toad's status being upgraded to critically endangered.  Its population size is likely less than 50 individual toads.  The main cause of the toad's population decline and extinction is likely chytridiomycosis, an amphibian disease, perhaps in collaboration with the effects of climate change.

Liverpool Pigeon:  The Liverpool Pigeon, or spotted green pigeon, is an extinct bird species of unknown origin, although some researchers speculate it might have lived in Tahiti.  The only remaining specimen of the bird resides in the Merseyside County Museum, and scientists say it's likely that the species was close to extinction before European exploration began in the Pacific.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature assessed the species in 2008 and declared it extinct, but the reasons for its extinction remain unknown.

Alaotra Grebe:  The Alaotra Grebe, which is also known as Delacour's little grebe or a rusty grebe, was declared extinct in 2010, although it might have been extinct years earlier.  Scientists were hesitant to write the small bird off too soon because it lived in Lake Alaotra, which is located in a remote part of Madagascar.  Thorough surveys of the area in 1989, 2004 and 2009 failed to find any evidence of the species, and the last confirmed sighting of the bird was in 1982.  The Alaotra grebe population began to decline in the 20th century because of habitat destruction and because the few remaining birds started mating with little grebes, creating a hybrid species.  Considering the bird's restricted range and lack of mobility, scientists declared it extinct, and today, only one photograph exists of an Alaotra grebe in the wild.

West African Black Rhino:  The rarest of the black rhino subspecies, the West African black rhinoceros, is now recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) as extinct.  Once widespread in central Africa, the population began a steep decline due to poaching.  The rhino was listed as "critically endangered" in 2008, but a survey of the animal's last remaining habitat in northern Cameroon failed to find any sign of the rhinos, either a true sighting or even evidence of its presence, like feces or feeding signs.  No West African black rhinos are known to be held in captivity.  The West African black rhino is a subspecies of the black rhino, but all rhino are in trouble.

Spix's Macaw:  Although around 50 Spix's macaws exist in captivity, the last known bird in the wild disappeared in 2000 and no others are known to remain.  The species is currently listed as "critically endangered" instead of "extinct in the wild" because not all areas of potential habitat have been thoroughly surveyed.  The bird is native to northern Brazil and in 1987 the three known remaining birds were captured for trade.  However, a single male bird was discovered in 1990 and paired with a female bird in captivity, but seven weeks after the female's release, she collided with a power line and died.  The decline of the Spix's macaw is attributed to hunting and trapping, habitat destruction and the introduction of Africanized bees, or "killer bees," which compete for nesting sites.

Pyrenean Ibex:  The Pyrenean Ibex is one of two extinct subspecies of the Spanish Ibex.  The species was once numerous and roamed across France and Spain, but by the early 1900's its numbers had fallen to fewer than 100.  The last Pyrenean ibex, a female nicknamed Celia, was found dead in northern Spain on Jan. 6, 2000, killed by a falling tree.  Scientists took skin cells from the animal's ear and preserved them in liquid nitrogen, and in 2009 an ibex was cloned, making it the first species to become "unextinct."  However, the clone died just seven minutes later due to lung defects.  What caused the Pyrenean ibex's extinction remains unknown, but some hypotheses include poaching, diseases and the inability to compete with other species for food.

Hawaiian Crow:  This native Hawaiian bird was declared "extinct in the wild" in 2002 when the last two known wild individuals disappeared.  Some birds remain in captivity, and between 1993 and 1999, more than 40 birds were hatched in a captive breeding program.  The birds were released into a lightly managed habitat and closely monitored, but releases were abandoned in 1999 because of increased mortality.  A reintroduction plan is being developed, but about 75 Hawaiian crows would be needed for the plan to work.  The reasons for the bird's extinction is not fully understood, but researchers speculate that an introduced disease, such as avian malaria.

Golden Toad:  The golden toad, which is sometimes referred to as the Monteverde toad or the orange toad, was a species that lived only in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in Costa Rica.  It was once a common species, but no specimen has been seen since 1989.  The toad's breeding sites were well-known and closely watched - in 1988, only eight males and two females could be found, and in 1989, only a single male could be located.  Extensive searches for the golden toad since then have failed to locate another specimen, and the species was declared extinct in August 2007.  The amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, airborne pollution, and global warming probably contributed to the species' demise.

 

                                                           100 Extinct Animals

by Bob Strauss at ThoughtCo. 10/16/17

Passenger Pigeon

Tasmanian Tiger

Quagga

Sea Mink

Galapagos Damsel

Tecopa Pupfish

American Lion

Bali Tiger

Barbary Lion

Cape Lion

Caspian Tiger

Cave Lion 

                                              Giant Monitor Lizard

European Lion

Neapolitan

Giant Wombat

Lesser Bilby

Tortoise

Wonambi

Ameiva

Blackfin Cisco

Blue Walleye

Gravenche

Harelip Sucker

Silver Trout

Thick Tail Chub

Tarpan

Sri Lanka Shrub Frog

Gastric Brooding Frog

Austrailian Torrent Frog

Ainsworth Salamander

Caribbean Monk Seal

Vegas Valley Leopard Frog

Nannophrys Guentheri

Saber-Tooth Tiger

Stephens Island Wren

Schomburgk's Deer

Cyprus Dwarf Hippopotamus

 Narragansett Pacer                               

Crescent Nail-Tail Wallaby

Giant Short-Faced Kangaroo

Pig Footed Bandicoot

Jamaican Giant Galliwasp

Round Island Burrowing Boa

Cape Verde Giant Skink

Big-Eared Hopping Mouse

Idefatigable Galapagos Mouse

Lesser Stick-Nest Rat

Puerto Rican Hutia

White-Footed Rabbit Rat

Yellowfin Cutthroat Trout

    Lake Titicaca Orestias

Eskimo Curlew

Great Auk

Giant Moa

Elephant Bird

Dodo Bird

Eastern Moa

Moa-Nalo

Javan Tiger

Eastern Elk

Atlas Bear

Bluebuck

Auroch

Irish Elk

Ferghana

Turkoman

Kawekaweau

Quinkana

Lake Pedder Earthworm

Pigtoe & Pearly Mussel

Madeiran Large White

Polynesian Tree Snail

Rocky Mountian Locust

Sloane's Urania

Xerces Blue

Levuana Moth

Syrian Elephant

Harleguin Toad

Stag Moose

Norfolk Trotter

American Zebra

Indian Caecilian

Old English Black

Syrian Wild Ass

Broad-faced Potoroo

Desert Rat Kangaroo

Eastern Hare-Wallaby

Yannan Lake Newt

Rodrigues Giant

Martinique Giant

Horned Turtle

Bulldog Rat

Dark Flying Fox

Giant Vampire Bat

Toolache Wallaby

American Cheetah

Carolina Parakeet

Sardinia Pika

Vespucci's Rodent

 

To conclude, let's look at the findings of the global authority on the status of the natural world, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN.

"The bad news, however, is that biodiversity is declining.  Currently, there are more than 79,800 species on The IUCN Red List, and more than 23,000 are threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 34% of conifers (trees), 33% of reef-building corals, 25% of mammals and 13% of birds."

God's Creation needs our attention, we have taken it for granted for too long and it's time we humans step up to the plate and take responsibility for caring for the world God gave us.  That is is the aim and the goal for Trinity Cares Inc.