Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Term Paper on Endangered Species

Endangered Species – Cuban Solenodon

Recent era of high technologies and developing industries led our society to the new stage of evolution. However, besides obvious advantages for civilization, the twentieth century brought certain problems in life of our planet. Nature began suffering soundly from products of human civilization. There is a great number of factors that influence decrease of population of various species (McGavin 13). One of the endangered species is Cuban Solenodon, very rare animal.

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There exist only two species of Solenodons - Solenodon cubanus and Solenodon paradoxous. Cuban Solenodon (scientific name - Solenodon cubanus) belongs to the family of Solenodontidae, Soricomorpha order, Mammalia class of Chordata phylum. This rare spieces (see Attachment 1) was uncovered by Wilhalm Peters in 1861. These small (around 50 cm long) shrew-like animals live mostly in Cuban Oriente Province. Since its discovery, Cuban Solenodon was mainly found in this area, being Cuban endemic (see Attachment 2).

Historical investigation has showed that species of Solenodon, the ancestors of modern Cuban Solenodon, were rather distributed animals around thirty million years ago (MacDonald 49). They lived in the area of moders North America. However, the size of population was not estimated. Therefore, the spieces is not young, having long history of development. Unfortunately current population size of this animal is very small. There were found only several decades of animals in the end of nineteenth century. In the period from 1890 to 1970 (Massicot) no animals were cought. After that, few specimen were caught in 1970-es and in 1999. Total number of representatives of Cuban Solenodon found since its discovery equaled 36 animals. However, only several years ago, in 2003, 37-th specimen was caught. Still there are no accurate data on current population of this animal.

Solenodons live in a wild nature and are protected by law. Hence, solenodons are not kept in Zoo parks as the animal is difficult to keep in captivity and is considered a threatened species. Although Cuban Solenodon is classified as endangered species, many biologists think that the small population size of this animal is conditionad by its lifestyle. Indeed, Solenodon cubanus is a nocturanl animal, mostly being active at night while sleeping at daytime (Answers.com). Besides, solenodons live in burrows. These facts are considered by some scientists to be reasons for rarity of this animal, as it is rather difficult to find solenodon in wild nature. Moreover, reproduction of Cuban Solenodon is very low. These animals produce maximum one litter per six months, having mostly one offspring (sometimes two) per litter. Therefore, there exist natural factors conditioning small population and rarity of Cuban Solenodon. However, there are many other facts that affected the small population size of this species.

There is very little known about natural events that caused small population of Solenodon Cubanus. Still, some factors and processes in twentieth century indeed affected its distribution. One of the reasons is considered the slash of tropical forest for agricultural needs. As long as solenodons live in wet forests, it was very dangerous for their population. Besides, the introduction of some animals (mongoose, dogs, and cats) caused decline of Cuban Solenodon population (Theusch). Being historically very unfamiliar with predators, solenodons can not fight with these animals and defend themselves. Therefore, the decrease of population size of Solenodon Cubanus depends totally on various kinds of human activity.

Cuban Solenodon was for the first time classified endangered species in 1970. Current status of this animal is also endangered, being in the Red List of Threatened Species. This species is protected by law and federal regulations of many countries, including the United States of America and Cuba. Unfortunately, the status of this rare animal and its protection does not make its population grow. On my view, very little can be done now for saving this species from going extinct besides decreasing our activity on deforestation. I believe that people will recognize the volume of enormous harm they cause to the wild nature. And I sincerely hope that once we can see this little animal in a wild forest of Eastern Cuba with our own eyes.
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