Manchester museum combats species extinction in exhibition

MANCHESTER Museum unveiled their latest exhibition ‘Extinction or Survival?’ this week, highlighting the damaging impact of human activity on the environment worldwide.

The exhibition, which took a year to create, hosts species that have been negatively affected by human life, and are becoming (or have already become) extinct.

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The diverse display showcases extinct animals and plants from areas including North America, Asia, and central Europe. Species such as the Great Auk and the Tasmanian Tiger are included.

With 99% of endangered animals being threatened due to human causes, the museum has additionally spotlighted species that have been wiped out in the United Kingdom.

And, with 40% of the world’s wildlife currently threatened by extinction, the museum believes the exhibit will invoke locals to do more about threatened British wildlife.

Manchester museum is also working with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Forest Stewardship Council to present ways in which people can make a positive difference for nature.

Co-curator for the exhibition, Dmitri Logunov, said: “Our original idea was an evolution-based display. But we stayed on a similar theme and wanted to show the evolution of human activity having an impact on our environment.

“We can take a look at the passenger pigeon for instance. There were up to 3 billion of them at one point, and toward the late 19th century they were killed on a massive scale.

“There was no reason- they were not used as food or fertilizer, killing for what people call ‘sport’. I struggle to think about how people can even do this to these creatures as a sport.”

Curators of the event have also displayed illegal items seized by UK border agents.

Authorities have seized crocodile-skin handbags, ivory statues, and scorpion-infused vodka on display at the museum.

Mr Logunov added there needs to be a collective effort made against the international black market trade to prevent items such as ivory statues driving animals to extinction.

He noted: “We cannot blame people selling these illegal items for being poor. As a country we cannot dictate how other countries crack down on illegal trade.

“It needs to be a joint international effort, because basically we are talking about survival of us, as part of nature. If we disconnect ourselves from nature then our survival is doomed.”

Evolutionary biologist and broadcaster Dr Ben Garrod opened the exhibit on October 20. Dr Garrod has presented television shows including Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur with David Attenborough at the BBC in his career.

Dr Garrod, a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, emphasised that the British section of the exhibition can raise efforts from UK residents to help their local environment.

He said: “We are at a turning point in our history- around 100 years ago we did not have anywhere near the awareness about the environment that we have now.

“So we can look at it positively and say that we know what we’re doing. We know how we can help these animals and prevent extinction.

“So this part of this exhibition is to make a point to the public that we can do something about it.”

Dr Garrod stated that locals in city environments such as Manchester could also help prevent extinction. He said: “I’m not expecting you to go out and do pioneering research on the environment.

“Just help save the wildlife on your doorstep by planting flowers, taking part in river clean-ups, and not grooming your garden so much that it destroys habitats.”

The exhibit will run until April 20 2017 and is free for all visitors.

This article was written for Quays News.

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