Endangered Species Day, May 11, 2023

Endangered African species have something to say, we need to listen carefully

Malak Chalbi

Mrs Malak Chalbi
Ecological engineer, specialized in wildlife management 
Sahara and Sahel Observatory

Unable to describe its distress or voice its pain, having no more power to convey its hurting and express its misery, nature, through its fauna and flora, suffers in silence. The few lines you are about to read aim to impersonate endangered species, give them the chance to speak up and hear their repressed cries. 

The idea is to highlight the importance of protecting endangered species and to raise public awareness on how frail they have become, by choosing native species highly threatened with extinction in Africa, based on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), top reference and indicator, making it possible to keep a permanent watch over the state and evolution of biodiversity on Earth. 

Black Rhino : ‘’Hi there, it is the black rhino speaking. The scientists have given me the Diceros bicornis scientific name. You've probably heard of me for I'm one of the “Big Five” group, but this has caused me a lot of problems. Did you know that I am classified as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List, that I currently live in Southern and East Africa and that my West African subspecies has disappeared ? Today, the black rhino population is down to 3,142 mature individuals. Do you know why ? The answer is plain to see. Because of the poaching that never ended for our horns and for the clearing of our habitat for agriculture’’. 

Slender-snouted Crocodile : ‘’I am a crocodile named Mecistops cataphractus. I live in West Africa, my presence is uncertain in several countries and I officially disappeared from Chad. Also rated as Critically Endangered, there are countless of pressures lying upon me. Commercial hunting for skin and meat, prey depletion, residential and commercial development, agriculture and aquaculture, energy production and mining exploitation, dam construction, pollution and climate change impacts, are all forces that we have to face. One thing is for sure : we are not just weeping crocodile tears here’’.

Atlas Cedar : ‘’Cedrus atlantica, majestic tree. I am actually from the Atlas, a mountain chain in North Africa. In my natural area, I feature in the IUCN Endangered Species list. Our population is highly fragmented and is continuously declining. Our forests have been exploited for wood for a very long time. Illegal logging added to overgrazing and repeated burning are major drivers of our destruction. In the areas closest to the Saharan desert, droughts are really, really hard to bear. I always thought that I was a crowned prince and considered myself a precious plant heritage. Why all this harm ? Answer my question’’. 

‘’We speak in the name of all threatened and endangered species and call upon the human species sharing this Earth to give us the special attention we deserve’’. 
It is no secret that the extinct and disappearing fauna and flora species will irreversibly modify the food chains and disturb the ecological development and that they will undoubtedly impair the fundamental role that biodiversity plays in the ecological balance of our planet. 

To all Homo sapiens, biodiversity on Earth is on the verge of a 6th mass extinction. It is thus vital to look back at the situation for a brighter image of tomorrow and take the necessary conservation measures at all scales. 

Let us make the unsaid, said …