How do you save a species without disrupting human life? What processes work for saving endangered species?

Many times scientists are faced with hard situations in which a species is slowly becoming extinct, but they don’t know how to fix it.  An even bigger problem is when the home of the species is also home to groups of people.  What do you do?  Some may think that in order to save a species you need to throw out the people and do everything to save the species.  Others say that their extinction is inevitable and you should just let them be.  There is in fact a good solution that benefits both parties.

The speaker that came in to talk to us was an Environmental Scientist who spent his whole life working on saving different animals.  One of his main projects was in Mongolia, trying to save taimen in the Onon river.  Taimen are huge fish that have lived in this area for hundreds of years.  So why are they going extinct? Well, there is no pollution, it’s a pristine environment.  There is no overfishing, the locals don’t eat them.  The team studying the taimen decided to travel to the banks of the Onon river where most of the taimen were, only to find that the reason they were going extinct was because of sports fishers.

The banks of the Onon were a perfect place for private helicopters to come and land.  The taimen here at the banks were huge and catching one was a cool thing to show off for rich people who liked this kind of recreation.  These sports fishers were killing the taimen after catching them, taking their skulls to hang on their wall for show.

Surprisingly, there was a really easy solution to this problem.  Sports fishers came here to catch taimen for fun.  They did it because they loved fishing, but they ended up harming the taimen.  It turns out, that there is a way to still have the pleasure and save the fish.  The team suggested flyfishing, which is a form of fishing where you catch a fish, take a picture, and let it back out.  This was the new campaign for saving the taimen, and it actually worked!  Taimen weren’t being killed anymore, people had the pleasure of catching these big beauties and getting a picture with them, and the scientists got to tag the fish so that they could track them and make sure they were doing okay.

I really like the approach he took to saving the taimen.  It goes to show that there are so many factors you have to take into account when it comes to figuring out how to solve a problem, but nothing is impossible if you try.  This also connects to the idea about the College of the Atlantic.  He talked about how students learn by doing, and I think that’s a really great way to learn.  We’re never going to solve anything if we don’t get out there and learn from real life situations.  We are capable of doing so many great things for science and the environment if we just put our minds to it.  Getting everyone involved and working together can never not work!

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