Under the Endangered Species Act, a
species or subspecies is regarded as "endangered" when it is in danger of
extinction throughout all or a significant part of its normal range. A species
is considered "threatened" when it is likely to become an endangered species in
the foreseeable future.
A species does not have to be in danger of global extinction in order to be regarded as endangered.
It makes sense to protect a species before it has declined too far. When its populations have become small or isolated, it is harder and more expensive to help the species recover. In addition, many plants and animals play an important role in their ecosystems, such as that of a keystone species. It is important to conserve species in many parts of their range so ecosystems remain healthy.
No one will ever again see a
Steller's sea cow or a dodo bird or a Barbary lion. These animals are extinct.
Worldwide, many animals are threatened by the following factors:
Destruction of an animal's habitat - clearing trees for agriculture, building cities and towns
Damaging an animal's habitat - cattle and sheep grazing on grasslands
Introduction of non-native species that compete for resources - foxes, cats, rabbits, etc.
Introduction of non-native plant species that compete for resources
Illegal collecting, hunting, and fishing.
Facts About Endangered
According to scientists, more than one and one-half million species exist on the earth today. However, recent estimates state that at least 20 times that many species inhabit the planet.
In the United States, 735 species of plants and 496 species of animals are listed as threatened or endangered.
266 of these listed species have recovery plans currently under development.
There are more than 1,000 animal species endangered worldwide.
There are more than 3,500 protected areas in existence worldwide. These areas include parks, wildlife refuges and other reserves. They cover a total of nearly 2 million square miles (5 million square km), or 3% of our total land area.
Aquatic species, which are often overlooked, are facing serious trouble. One third of the United States’ fish species, two-thirds of its crayfish species, and almost three-quarters of its mussel species are in trouble.
Sources of Information: National Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Vulnerable species - A species particularly at risk because of low or declining numbers or small range, but not a threatened species.
Threatened species – a species whose population is not yet low enough to be in immediate danger of extinction, but who certainly faces serious problems. If the problems affecting these species aren’t resolved, it is probable that the species will become endangered. The eastern indigo snake and the red kangaroo are examples of threatened species.
Endangered species – a specie, plant or animal, that is in immediate danger of becoming extinct. Its numbers are usually low, and it needs protection in order to survive. The Siberian tiger, the southern sea otter, the snow leopard, the green pitcher plant, and thousands of other plants and animals are endangered worldwide.
Extinct species – an extinct species is one that is no longer living. The passenger pigeon, the dodo, and the Stegosaurus are examples of extinct species. These animals no longer exist on the earth. Below is a few of the creatures on the endangered or Extinct list..
African Wild Dog
Galapagos Flightless Cormorant
Greater Prairie Chicken
Japanese Crested Ibis
Mediterranean Monk Seal
Vancouver Island Marmot
How can we help?
One of the most important ways to help threatened plants and animals survive is to protect their habitats permanently in national parks, nature reserves or wilderness areas. There they can live without too much interference from humans. It is also important to protect habitats outside reserves such as on farms and along roadsides.
You can visit a nearby national park or nature reserve. Some national parks have special guided tours and walks for kids. Talk to the rangers to find out whether there are any threatened species and how they are being protected. You and your friends might be able to help the rangers in their conservation work.
When you visit a national park, make sure you obey the wildlife code: follow fire regulations; leave your pets at home; leave flowers, birds’ eggs, logs and bush rocks where you find them; put your rubbish in a bin or, better still, take it home.
If you have friends who live on farms, encourage them to keep patches of bush as wildlife habitats and to leave old trees standing, especially those with hollows suitable for nesting animals.
Some areas have groups which look after local lands and nature reserves. They do this by removing weeds and planting local native species in their place. You could join one of these groups, or even start a new one with your parents and friends. Ask your local parks authority or council for information.
By removing rubbish and weeds and replanting with natives you will allow the native bush to gradually regenerate. This will also encourage native animals to return.
Make Space For Our Wildlife
Build a birdfeeder and establish a birdbath for the neighborhood birds.
Plant a tree and build a birdhouse in your backyard.
Start composting in your backyard garden or on your balcony. It eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers which are harmful to animals and humans, and it benefits your plants!
Ask your parents not to use harmful chemicals in your garden or home.
Recycle, Reduce, And Reuse
Encourage your family to take public transportation. Walk or ride bicycles rather than using the car.
Save energy by turning off lights, radios and the TV when you are not using them.
Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth and use water-saving devices on your toilet, taps and showerhead.
Ask your parents to buy products and food without packaging whenever possible. Take your own bag to the store. It will reduce the amount of garbage and waste your family produces.
Recycle your toys, books and games by donating them to a hospital, daycare, nursery school or children's charity.
Encourage your family to shop for organic fruits and vegetables.
Plant Native Plants That Are Local To The Area
If you can, plant native plants instead of non-native or introduced ones in your garden. You don’t want seeds from introduced plants escaping into the bush. Native grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees are more likely to attract native birds, butterflies and other insects, and maybe even some threatened species.
Control Introduced Plants And Animals
Non-native plants and animals are ones that come from outside your local area.
Some parks and reserves, beaches, bush-land and rivers are now infested with invasive plants, and native species often cannot compete with these plants.
Many environmental weeds come from people’s gardens.
Sometimes, the seeds are taken into the bush by the wind or by birds.
Controlling these foreign species is an important step in protecting wildlife
Join An Organization
There are many community groups working on conservation activities. Join an organization in your area and start helping today!
Make Your Voice Heard
State and territory government conservation agencies are responsible for the management of national parks and the protection of wildlife. They are sometimes supported by public foundations.
Tell your family, friends and work mates about threatened species and how they can help them.
Start a group dedicated to protecting a threatened plant or animal in your area or perhaps to help care for a national park.
Write articles or letters about threatened species to newspapers.
Ring up talk-back radio programs to air your concerns, or arrange to talk on your community radio station.
Eight Ways That Kids Can Get Involved Too!
Draw Pictures - You can find out which species on the endangered species list live in your area and why they are endangered. Then draw a picture of the animal and the biggest threats to its survival. If you need a picture of the species, you can probably find one at your public library. Send the picture, along with a short letter explaining why you drew it, to your Senator or Representative. Be sure and tell them how you feel about endangered species.
Write A Letter - You can write a short letter to the people who are in charge of the Endangered Species Act. Write in your own words how you feel about endangered species and when you think it is important to protect them. In your letter, you might select a species that is of particular interest to you and discuss why you feel so strongly about that species.
Make Masks And Costumes - Based on a picture of an endangered species, make a mask or a costume using paper mache, paper bags, construction paper, or whatever you can find around the house or in the art room at school. You can even make it a group project or a game at a party. When you finish, maybe you and your friends can wear your costumes and march in a parade. Be sure to take photographs.
Make Puppets - Find photographs from magazines or books of endangered species. From these images, create a puppet that looks like your favourite endangered animal. You can use socks, buttons, glitter, felt, orange juice cans, small bowls, plastic and aluminium wrap, glue, thread and needle, magic markers, pipe cleaners, and other odds and ends to make your puppets. Once you have made your puppet, you can create a story explaining why the species has become endangered. Use your local library and the internet to research why the species is endangered. Using your puppet, tell your story to an audience.
Make A Storybook - Select a single, or many, endangered species that interest you. Do research in your local library and on the internet to learn more about the species. Determine where they live and why, what they eat, what eats them, who shares their home, and why they are endangered. Draw pictures to illustrate your story. Share your storybook with others.
Personal Reading - Read and learn as much about endangered species as you can. Your local library is probably the best place to begin. You could look in encyclopedias, reference books, picture books, storybooks, magazines, and even cd-roms using a computer.
Local Species Research - Research to determine if there are any endangered species in your country. Try to find out what other people in your community are doing for these species. Perhaps you can interview them and ask why they are interested, and what they are doing.
Tell Others! - Share your new knowledge with others. Tell them about endangered species and explain why they are endangered. Encourage others to learn more about endangered species. Let them know that together, we can all make a difference.
Source Of Information 1997 National Wildlife Federation. All rights reserved.