The once thriving and healthy lives wildlife possessed all throughout the planet are diminishing rapidly. The presence of humans and our actions have had an immensely prominent role in affecting species and their natural habitats. The way we treat the environment, directly or indirectly, has a huge impact on species and eventually may drive them to extinction. Species are threatened every day throughout every continent. The rate of extinction has increased drastically since the early 1900’s, starting from a little under 10,000 species becoming extinct per year too skyrocketing to 50,000 species today. ("Human Population Growth and Extinction." Biologicaldiversity.org. Center for Biological Diversity, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 13). This increase in extinct species directly corresponds to the environmental threats that put animals in vulnerable positions. The environmental threats: deforestation, climate change, and the extraction of natural resources have resulted in animals becoming critically endangered throughout South America.
Deforestation has posed a huge threat to species that live throughout the Amazon. Deforestation, which is the removal of trees in forests, takes place due to the expansion of agriculture for economic development. Poorer countries depend on agriculture as their main source of income and food. Farmers migrate to South America in hope for a prosperous agricultural opportunity. In order to have enough land to start cultivating, farmers cut down trees and burn the stumps to release the nutrients into the soil that is needed to help produce crops. This process is called “slash and burn” and it is dominant in this region. (Barbosa, Luiz C. The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. Lanham: University of America, 2000. Print). Another driver of deforestation is from large companies clearing out vast amounts of land for cattle pastures to fulfill the worldwide beef market. The rainforests are not being destroyed out of ignorance or stupidity but largely because of poverty and greed. (Gradwohl, Judith, and Russel Greenberg. Saving the Tropical Rainforest. London: Earthscan Publications Limited, 1998. Print). The extent of deforestation in the Amazon from 1978-1998 went from 152, 200 acres being destroyed to 532,086 acres: A 300% increase. (Barbosa, Luiz C. The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. Lanham: University of America, 2000. Print). This startling statistic demonstrates how fast the forest is disappearing; some scientists concede that by the end of the century, most of the primary forest in the Amazon will be gone. (Jordan, Carl F. Amazonian Rain Forest. New York: Springer- Verlag New York, 1987. Print). The deforestation of the rainforest can be linked to the decline of popular species. The Amazon rainforest is the most bio diverse tropical rainforest throughout the world, home to thousands of plant and animal species. (Gradwohl, Judith, and Russel Greenberg. Saving the Tropical Rainforest. London: Earthscan Publications Limited, 1998. Print). The Scarlet Macaw, of the most popular bird species, is critically endangered due to deforestation and the destruction of the deep rainforest habitat. Cutting down trees limits the number of places for Macaw nesting, and will eventually limit the number of young raised. (Mountain, Michael. "The Nonhuman Rights Project." The Nonhuman Rights Project RSS. N.p., 12 June 2013. Web. 03 Oct. 2013). Another important animal that has become endangered because of deforestation and habitat loss is the Black Spider Monkey. These primates are an essential part of the tropical rainforest ecosystem. They play a key role in seed dispersal, allowing the forest environment to grow and strive. (Mountain, Michael. "The Nonhuman Rights Project." The Nonhuman Rights Project RSS. N.p., 12 June 2013. Web. 03 Oct. 2013). Deforestation poses the greatest challenge for survival and makes species like the Macaw and Black Spider Monkey vulnerable by taking away their natural habitat and forcing them into a