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Conservation of Wildlife and Importance of Biodiversity

Grade 9
Jun 5, 2023

Conservation of Wildlife


On Earth, there exist many different types of living organisms. This variety is “the spice of life,” whether it is in pine woods or deserts. The well-being of numerous other organisms is closely related to our own. Biodiversity is one of Earth’s greatest natural resources.

This enormous diversity in our biosphere can be seen not just at the species level but at every level of biological organization, from macromolecules inside cells to biomes. The smallest bacteria to the largest animal are all included.


On a global scale, ecosystems are interlinked.  If biodiversity declines in one place, the natural balance may be thrown out in other places.

Healthy biodiversity is important for maintaining the health of the planet. Earth’s air and water are purified by a wide range of organisms. Many different organisms are responsible for eliminating waste.


Plants’ ability to do photosynthesis is essential for maintaining the atmosphere and climate system. Plant pollination, seed dispersal, soil fertility, and the nitrogen cycle rely on good biodiversity to work properly. These processes are required for natural ecosystems as well as farming.

Plants perform transpiration, wherein they absorb water from the soil, which evaporates into the atmosphere. This influences where the rain will fall. Plant roots hold the soil together and help in reducing the risk of floods.

Plant pollination, seed dispersal, soil fertility, and the nitrogen cycle are all essential for natural ecosystems and farming. They require good biodiversity to work properly.

Biodiversity also creates the genetic diversity required to develop crops to grow in different conditions. A wide range of biodiversity ensures that we can breed livestock that is best suited to our climate.

Biodiversity also refers to the existence of a wide variety of plants and animals that can be used to produce goods that people can use, such as food, clothes, and medicines.


Importance of Biodiversity:

  • Biodiversity and Medicine: Many medicines are made from substances found in wild species. For example, compounds in this foxglove plant are used in medicines that treat heart disease.
  • Initially, wild species were used to make aspirin and penicillin. Chemical compounds in some wild species are also used to treat depression and cancer. These chemicals are formulated by analyzing genetic composition. When we lose biodiversity, we lose genetic data that may have been beneficial in medicine.
  • Biodiversity and Agriculture: Genetic diversity also plays an important role in agriculture. Most crop plants have wild relatives. Sometimes these wild plants carry genes for important features like disease and pest resistance. If we lose such wild plants, we may also lose those important genes.
  • Biodiversity and Healthy Ecosystems: The health of an ecosystem depends upon the number and variety of species present. The loss of species may diminish the value of an ecosystem. Sometimes a change in the population of a single species can change the whole ecosystem. Such crucial species are termed keystone species. Healthy and diverse ecosystems are important for soil, water, and air quality.

Levels of Biodiversity:

Biodiversity describes the combined diversity at all levels of biological organization. There are three levels of biodiversity:

Genetic Diversity:

Genetic diversity is the most basic kind of biodiversity. It comprises all the different forms of genetic information carried by one species or by all organisms on Earth. It also includes variation associated with adaptations to local conditions.

If a population loses its genetic diversity, it is less likely to be able to survive changes in its environment.

Species Diversity:

Species diversity is the number of different species in an ecosystem or across the ecosystem.

More than 1.8 million species have been studied and named by biologists. However, they still think that there are at least 30 million more species yet to be discovered.

Ecosystem Diversity:

Ecosystem diversity refers to the many different kinds of ecosystems that exist in the biosphere. All the different habitats, communities, and ecological processes are important to biodiversity. Ecosystem diversity relies on both genetic and species diversity.

Levels of Biodiversity

Loss of Biodiversity:

Human activities are responsible for the rapidly declining biological wealth of our planet. The loss of biodiversity in a region may lead to a decline in plant production, lowered resistance to natural calamities like drought, and increased variability in certain ecosystem processes such as plant production, water use, and pest and disease cycles.

The IUCN Red List (2004) has documented the extinction of 784 species in the last 500 years. Examples of recent extinctions include the dodo, quagga, thylacine, and three subspecies of tiger.

Species have been evolving and becoming extinct since life began. Scientists believe that over 99 percent of the species that have ever lived are now extinct. So, extinction is not new. But human activity today is causing the greatest wave of extinction since the dinosaurs died off.

People cause damage to biodiversity by changing habitats, hunting, and introducing species into new places. Pollution and climate change are other factors that lower biodiversity.

The IUCN Defines Six Different Levels of Threatened Species:

  1. Extinct: there exists no living member of the species.
  2. Extinct in the wild: the members of the species are alive only in cultivation or in captivity.
  3. Critically endangered: the members of the species face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.
  4. Endangered: the members of the species are not critically endangered but face a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.
  5. Vulnerable: the members of the species are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.
  6. Conservation dependent: the members of the species are the focus of a specific consideration program without which it would shift to the above five levels within a period of five years.
IUCN Categories
There are Four Major Causes Responsible for the Loss of Biodiversity and They are as follows:

Habitat loss and fragmentation: it is the most important cause of species extinction and occurs when people change a natural habitat into farmland or land for housing.

For example, the tropical rainforests that once covered more than 14% of the earth’s land surface now cover only 6 %. The Amazon rainforest is being cut and cleared for cultivating soya beans or for conversion to grasslands for raising beef cattle.

Development often breaks a habitat into smaller pieces. This process is called habitat fragmentation and it creates a decline in populations that occupies large spaces.

Over – exploitation: when a species is removed from an ecosystem at a faster rate than it can be replenished, over-exploitation takes place. Humans obtain food and shelter from nature by carrying out activities like logging, farming, and fishing. When such activities are carried out at an alarming rate, overexploitation takes place.

Examples include unsustainable fishing, poaching of elephants, overhunting for bush meat, and overcollection of slow-growing plants and fungi.

Introduced species: When a species is introduced unintentionally or deliberately into a new environment, its population can grow very quickly. The new species may out-compete native plants and animals and turn invasive. This could result in a decline or extinction of indigenous species.

Examples of invasive species include the Asian carp, zebra mussels, carrot grass, etc.

Pollution and Climate Change: Pollution is the release of harmful chemicals into the environment and results in acid deposition and climate change. Climate change may pose a major threat to biodiversity as species are adapted to their environment.

A species may be able to survive only within a certain temperature and rainfall range. If these ranges are altered, organisms may require migration. If global temperatures rise, many species will become extinct.

Causes of Biodiversity loss

Strategies for Conservation of Biodiversity and Wildlife:

The conservation of biodiversity and wildlife is important for sustainable development. There are two strategies of conservation:

In situ conservation: Each level of biodiversity is protected when an entire ecosystem is conserved.  This approach is called in situ (on-site) conservation. In-situ conservation has several advantages. It is cost-effective and a large number of living organisms can be conserved simultaneously.

Since organisms live in a natural ecosystem, they are able to evolve better and can easily adjust to different environmental conditions. National parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and biosphere reserves are examples of protected areas where in-situ conservation takes place.

In-situ Conservation

Ex situ Conservation: this approach involves placing threatened animals and plants in a special setting, away from their natural habitat, where they can be protected and given special care.

Examples of ex-situ conservation include zoological parks, botanical gardens, and wildlife safari. There are several animals that have become extinct in the wild but continue to be maintained in zoological parks.

In recent years, advancements in ex-situ conservation have allowed the preservation of gametes of threatened species in viable and fertile conditions for a long duration using cryopreservation techniques. Now, it is possible to fertilize eggs in vitro, as well as plants can be propagated using tissue culture methods.

Seeds of a variety of genetic strains of plants holding commercial importance can be kept for long periods in seed banks.

Ex- situ Conservation

In situations where an animal or plant is endangered or threatened and requires urgent attention to save it from extinction, ex-situ (off-site) conservation is considered desirable.

The government of various countries is establishing strict rules and laws to protect the biodiversity and wildlife of that particular country. Individual species are being protected by captive breeding programs. For example, the giant panda is one of these species.

Governments and conservation groups work to set aside land for national parks, forests, and other protected areas.

Biologists are identifying ecological hot spots to make sure conservation efforts happen in places where they are most needed.

An ecological hot spot refers to a place wherein many species and habitats are facing immediate danger of extinction.

Conservation of wildlife


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