Episode 9: State of the Planet’s Wildlife
Explores what scientists are calling the “sixth great extinction” of our world’s plants and animals and what we are doing to stop it. Case studies evaluate the loss of wildlife as a result of climate change, population and poverty pressures, poaching, the international bush-meat trade, and the loss of wildlife corridors in Montana, Florida’s Everglades, South Africa, Singapore, Bangladesh, Kenya, Zambia, the Amazon, the Arctic, and China.
Extinction has always been a natural part of Earth’s history; five major extinctions have occurred in Earth’s past in which a large number of species went extinct in a relatively short period of time, at least geologically speaking. Perhaps the most well-known of these extinctions was that of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The cause is believed to have been a huge asteroid slamming into the Earth. The causes of the other extinction episodes are unknown, but they are surely the result of titanic geological, meteorological, or astronomical phenomena. Now, many scientists believe that we are beginning to experience a sixth mass extinction. This one, however, would be the first created by another animal species, namely our own, Homo sapiens.
Human population growth and the development it creates, the poaching of animals for food and for a wide variety of products ranging from ivory to furs, and global warming are all having dramatic impact on wildlife populations around the world. But, the film also shows how innovative and concerned people are successfully working to protect wild species. The threats wild creatures are facing in the 21st Century are daunting, but hopes for saving them remain robust. The first step is to become informed.