Endangered Species and What We Can Do

April 10th, 2007 BY Sherry Obenauer | 77 Comments

We’ve all read news stories and seen documentaries that describe the numbers of animal and plant species that are now endangered or extinct. These stories often highlight the reasons such wildlife are in danger or no longer around. Some stories may even go further to explain the ramifications of such loss. However, usually only the destruction of rainforests are mentioned in terms of the effects on humans (e.g., decreased oxygen, increased carbon dioxide, and ozone depletion). Occasionally, some stories mention as an afterthought what we can do to help reverse such harmful extinctions, usually in terms of financial donations to some wildlife protection agency.

This article lists some of the species that are currently endangered and near extinction, the effects on humans and the environment, and the ways in which each of us can help ensure our survival as a planet.

Extinction means the irreversible loss of a species. Related to extinction is the ecological concept of extirpation, or the elimination of a given species from a geographic range. Prior to becoming extinct, a species is labeled endangered when their numbers become very low.

E.O. Wilson estimated that 27,000 species are going extinct every year. In 1998, E.V. Futter drew attention to the fact that this so-called Sixth Extinction is the greatest in the Earth’s four-billion-year-long history, and Niles Eldredge warned of the grim consequences for the planetary gene pool and the future of biodiversity.

Why Are Species Becoming Extinct?

One reason many animals are becoming, or have already become, extinct is human hunting and poaching. Elephants are slaughtered simply for their two ivory tusks in order to make pretty little ornaments that adorn shelves intended to impress strangers. Baby seals are bludgeoned for their tiny furs in order to make fashionable coats for rich people lacking in self-worth. Tigers, lions, and other beautifully coated mammals are hunted for the same inane reason seals are. Sharks are speared for their impressive jaws and bones, for glory and to make herbal concoctions. Countless other animals are shot, killed, and hung on a wall as compensation for much smaller ‘heads’.

Another reason for species decline is habitat destruction via city development and logging. Habitat depletion is by far the greatest cause of extinction. Conservatively, we are destroying tropical rainforests at a rate of 17 million hectares per year and losing 75 billion tons of topsoil annually from the world’s agricultural crop lands. In Brazil alone, rainforest loss is now 5 million acres a year, about seven football fields a minute.

Land is being taken from wildlife in order to erect more condominiums and shopping malls. Cities are constantly expanding to incorporate more people and businesses. Few efforts, if any, are made to relocate the animals or to reconstruct their habitat elsewhere. Logging is occurring throughout the world to supply home building, paper, fuel, and other products. Rivers are being damaged, as are the forests that are left barren and lifeless. Sure, trees are being replanted by those who care about preserving the environment, but by too few people to make up for the loss.

A third main reason for wildlife extinction and endangerment is pollution from industries and vehicles. More and more cars are on the roads and businesses are booming around the world with many countries having few, if any, restrictions in place to monitor and lessen the volume of pollution. When such policies are put in place, many officials don’t enforce them. Landfills are becoming overfilled and many companies are using rivers as dumping grounds. Hey, we don’t live in the ocean, so who cares?

Finally, the use of chemicals such as DDT and pesticides are to blame. Although DDT is no longer in use, its effects are still observed amongst bald eagle eggs and other bird species. Many new and ‘improved’ pesticides and other related chemicals have been invented in order to keep up with the constant mutations and adaptations of the insects which feed on human crops. Many manufactured chemicals have been linked to different forms of cancer and other illnesses, as well as ozone depletion.

What’s Wrong With Extinction?

Who cares if we lose some animal and plant species? First, extinction of animal species leads to an imbalance in the food chain which may cause population explosions of some species or the extinction of others. When this happens, animals may start competing for human resources or may wipe out species we rely on for survival.

Second, when an animal becomes extinct, it can never again be admired and appreciated by humans. Nearly every city in the world has a zoo which attracts millions of people every year. Also, animals are often used in research to help find cures for human diseases. Animals are also used for work and for pleasure. If no one takes an interest in animals, then no animal is protected and all of them become at risk. Humans’ very existence depends on wildlife survival.

Third, destroying plant life increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, which worsens the greenhouse effect. Each year the earth’s temperature is rising, resulting in dying wildlife and a disrupted food chain. Nature is drastically impacted by even a one-degree change in temperature. Human skin cancer has skyrocketed, as have eye problems and respiratory disorders due to ozone depletion and poor air quality. Plants are being destroyed that may hold potential cures for many human diseases.

Fourth, when a species goes extinct, its genome, the entire genetic information carried by that species in its DNA and hitherto capable of transmission to its descendants or of natural selection, is forever lost to the world. It’s not just the species that’s lost, but its genome and, hence, the possibility for further speciation.

Finally, animals help produce soil compatible for farming, and kill harmful fungi. By eating or stomping on certain fungi and producing feces, animals replenish the soil for human usage. Without many grazing animals, the soil would deteriorate and be rendered useless for human planting. Without healthy soil, humans become extinct.

What Can One Person Do?

What can you do to help? There are many organizations that are fighting to preserve wildlife, including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. Many of these organizations are run by volunteers who help educate others, plant trees, rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife, grow plants, and raise funds to help protect nature areas. Join one today, or start your own.

Donate money to the above and other similar nature organizations, or write letters to government, companies, and newspapers voicing your concerns regarding the environment and your ideas for preserving it. Sometimes, only a few well-written, heart-felt letters are needed. Start a petition or rally for others to begin letter writing or have a peaceful demonstration.

Volunteer to educate others or to develop writing and advertising material, replant trees, boycott animal tested products, and report poachers. Fight to increase the severity of punishment for poachers whether it be in terms of stiffer fines or jail sentences. Volunteer to help injured wildlife, boycott items made with animal skins or ivory, and reduce, reuse, recycle. There are recycling stations everywhere: find them. Planned obsolescence of many consumer goods leads to wastefulness and resource depletion. Make large companies culpable for the damage they cause to the environmentjobs don’t matter much if there isn’t a planet to work on.

Some measure of population control for every country would control our growth. After all, we’re humans, not rabbits. Many parents aren’t taking adequate care of their children and there are literally millions of children around the world living homeless or in orphanages, so why are we producing more? If you honestly love children (and aren’t motivated by a narcissistic drive to propagate your genes), it shouldn’t matter where the child came from.

If each person adopted just one of these plans starting today, we wouldn’t have to scramble to find viable living on another planet (i.e. Mars). Saying you care and wanting to help changes nothing. You must do something. Talk is cheap and it is a true person of integrity and heart who takes action for what they believe in. Please, take action today or we will die wishing we had.

See Also:

U.S. Says Yellowstone Grizzlies No Longer Endangered

Barcoding Life: Genetic Species Identification

Tasmanian Devil Ravaged By Cancer

Fish recovery shows that the Endangered Species Act works

Elephants more threatened by poachers than ever

  1. Rachael
    1

    hi! my name is rachael and i am 12 years old , i am doing an assingnment on endangered animal’s and i need to find out how i can help:) i was wondering if u could give me somse idea’s?

    bye thankyou xx

    • Responses to Rachael
      2
      Sherry says:
      March 22

      Hi Rachael,

      I know this reply comes too late to probably be of any use to you; however, any ideas on how to help endangered animals was mentioned in my article. I hope it helped you write your report.

      • 3
        Alisha says:
        February 2

        Hey! sherry my name is alisha. I want your help as Rachaelneed on the same topic. i have search everyever but i did not get any thing on these. so help me.

      • 4
        Vixcillia says:
        October 6

        Hey sherry can you help me im 11 yrs old im doing a project/research on endangered animals can you please help me :( i also don’t know what animal i should do? im only on at home and scool please hurry up and reply

      • 5
        November 3

        I love the animals of this beautiful world!!!

      • 6
        sarah says:
        January 26

        I think we should let people know about this and make a petition

      • 7
        lamont says:
        May 9

        well it is a little crule but not alot but i love animals anyways can u please spell right next time a little i am not trying to be mean

    • 8
      Tyler says:
      August 31

      Hi,
      I’m Tyler. I just did an assignment on endangered animals. Some recommendations on how to help endangered animals are:
      Breeding Programs
      Wildlife Reserves
      Join an organization
      Reduce, Reuse, Recylce
      Turning off a light
      Planting Trees
      All small things count!
      A More extreme thing you could do is start a protest.
      Even not Perchesting animal products helps.

      • 9
        Chode says:
        April 12

        Naked is good ^_^

        • 10
          April 13

          Yeah i love being naked, im naked as we speak, Jason likkes dik

          • 11
            damn says:
            October 13

            shut the f up

    • 12
      erin finholm says:
      February 8

      hi im erin and i am 12 years old i am doing a school report to here is some ideas i wrote up in the essay i am writing…to save endangered animals from becoming extinction we need to take action now. We could start by collecting paper and other materials to recycle to help contribute to rainforests. Humans could also easily help by consuming less and not being so wasteful, like reduce, reuse and recycle. People could start by walking or riding bicycles instead of a car. We could save energy by turning off lights, radio and TV when you are not using them. Turning off water when brushing teeth and using water-saving devices on your showerheads and sink. We could also switch to recyclable paper bags at the grocery store instead of wasting plastic bags and throwing it in landfills. Humans could also help conserve habitats by planting trees and other native plants.

    • 13
      Chode says:
      April 12

      My pp is hard

    • 14
      julien says:
      April 22

      hey im doing a report on endangered animals 2 and i need to have to have a how to help part 2 pleas send me some pointers at julien.mercure@live.ca

  2. robin
    15

    hi i’m 12 years old aswell and i have an environmental group. we fundraise for charity, pick up litter and campaign to save endangered animals. We were in a couple of newspapers. I think this website is very good though.

  3. ropav
    16

    hi im 15 years old i read your article and i think is very good im just doing an assigment about endangered animals but the thing is i dont know how to start my thesis statement can you give me an idea well thank you bye

    • Responses to ropav
      17
      Sherry says:
      March 22

      This probably comes too late to be of any use to you, but I suggest asking your teacher for help regarding a thesis statement for your assignment as he/she will be the one marking it. That way you will know exactly what she/he expects.

  4. chloe adey
    18

    my name is chloe and im 16 i think we should help all endagered animals aspeshly gorillas
    aka mountain gorillas

    • Responses to chloe adey
      19
      PCN says:
      April 24

      Bad Grammar, girl.

    • 20
      June 15

      me tooo

  5. Taylor Olson
    21

    im Taylor OLson doing a report on endagered species came to this website and just wanted to thanks for doing this

  6. Caleb Shepherd
    22

    I would like to help save our endangered animals by getting more and more people to try and save these animals. I am doing a project at school about sea turtles and am raising money for them. I am 10 years old. My hero is Steve Irwin!

  7. stav
    23

    Great article, and it is also really cool to see the young people above, all taking an interest. It shows that he message is starting to get ahead..

  8. katie
    24

    well i think this website is great bc it informs people on what is going on with the animals all around the world suffering from what we caused

  9. kayla
    25

    hey i like your site and im going to do a blog about saving animalas like that cute one

  10. stav
    26

    Well that is really good Kayla.. but please do remember that other animals that are not so cute, also need our protection.

  11. rachel
    27

    i think that we all need to start doing something about these poor creatures that are endangered/extinct. i also think we should try to stop hunting and destroying these poor innocent animals homes.

  12. Tenaya
    28

    i m doing my ROPES project on endangered species!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Responses to Tenaya
      29
      kiki says:
      April 28

      iloveme sum animals yalllllll

  13. Kittybomb
    30

    i m 10 years old 2, and I LOVE THE EARTH NOTHING WILL STOP ME FROM SAVING IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Dani
    31

    Hello I am doing A school project on problems with the Earth and need to know how to save endangered species. Can you help me?

    • Responses to Dani
      32
      Sherry says:
      May 27

      Hi Dani,

      Any ideas on how to help endangered species was mentioned in my article. Further information can be found either on the Internet on educational or government websites or in the library. You could even talk to a librarian for resource suggestions or your teacher. I hope this helps you write your report.

  15. Kelly
    33

    hello. i was just wondering… what animal do you think is most important to help protect and save??

    • Responses to Kelly
      34
      Sherry says:
      June 3

      Hi Kelly,

      The top ten most endangered species
      according to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) are:

      Black Rhino
      Giant Panda
      Tiger
      Beluga Sturgeon
      Goldenseal
      Alligator Snapping Turtle
      Hawksbill Turtle
      Big Leaf Mahogany
      Green-Cheeked Parrot
      Mako Shark

      I would check out other such websites to view other lists too.

      Sherry

  16. Roland Yong
    35

    thank you so much, im 13 right now doing a project for science and this has helped me sooo much

  17. Cole
    36

    All these kids doing projects on the environment is great, but it is a HUGE challenge to defeat the greed of corporations and politicians (the ones that allow the destruction to continue). It is hard to raise a family without money, and to get money one usually has to have a job. I would say 9 out of 10 jobs available contribute to the destruction of the environment, be it construction, mechanic, department store worker, etc. the list goes on and on. Like the article above says, most environmental ”jobs” are volunteer or very low paid just because of the lack of private or federal funding (sad). It’s a shame we humans are so self centered and cursed with this destructive way of living. Technology may be advancing the human race faster than ever but at what cost? Exactley what are we trying to advance to anyways?

  18. Chloe
    37

    Im doing a projest for geography and this information has really helped, so thanks!

    • Responses to Chloe
      38
      Alisha says:
      February 2

      Hi! Chloe my self alisha i have read your article. But can you help me to that where did you get the information. Please

      • 39
        jamie carville says:
        June 18

        hello aliciam my nam is alicia pronounced aleesha, btw, anyways, i can here u r stressed bt keep going, dnt wii urself or i will cum and fleaf u!!! CHICKEN!
        sum monkeys do nt realise the importance of cheese, the take advantage of itt.
        anyways, you can help save the environment by Yea I is fi no
        uh huu, gd gd
        bye bye
        love from jamie carville :)

  19. Betty loarca
    40

    I think animals that are in endangered sould have a better life. Then the one they are having right now. Stop the thretning NOW and save the animals.

  20. Betty loarca
    41

    Comment already exists or is waiting for approval.

  21. Martha
    42

    Everyone needs to lend a helping hand because if we don’t then all the cute little polar bears and giant panda’s and cheetah’s and hippopotamus’ won’t be here anymore and then we won’t be able to tell our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on and so forth, about the AMAZING animals we have seen and heard and read about when we were growing up. Its CRITICAL that we do our part and help out. We need to stop poaching, ruining their homes, hunting, and all that other stuff, because doing that runs them out of their homes and then they have to adapt to living on a place that isn’t their habitat. Then their eating habits change and then we have a serious problem, because they might choose to have their home in someone’s backyard and that person might try and kill it or call the animal control to come and get it out of there.

    I am doing a project for my Animal Behavior Class and I already have been doing my part to help out and i want is for someone else to have the courage to stand up and say I WILL HELP OUT TO SAVE THESE POOR CREATURES. that is all i’m asking.

    Thanks sooo Much.
    -Martha G , Indian Trail Academy, Wisconsin

  22. zaliee cole
    43

    hey my name is zailee im 13 years old and im doing an assignmnet on endangered species. and i need to know how can we help prevent it.

  23. Brandy canning
    44

    Hey im brandy.Im doing an assignment for endangered species.This a nice site,but i really
    need help.So how can we help endangered species?

    • Responses to Brandy canning
      45
      Connie Deen says:
      August 1

      Brandy,

      Can you contact me at this email please.
      conniedeen@live.com

      Thank you,

      Connie

  24. Amelina
    46

    Hi. My name is Amelina. I am doing a project on giant pandas and I need to know how we can help giant pandas to stop being exticnt. Does anyone know?

  25. Kacy Chan
    47

    Hi. My name is Kacy, im 12, and I’m doing a project on endangered species. Your website was a ton of help! Thank you SO much Ms. Obenauer!
    -K.C—–

  26. alyssa
    48

    hi im doing a project on this subject too, and all of this stuff is very helpful and useful. and you make a very good point.THANKS!!

  27. Jennifer
    49

    i own a go green group on home school and i really got a lot of info on this assay Thanks

  28. KASSONDRA
    50

    I PERSONALY LOVE ANIMALS SO I HAVE BEEN HELPING ANIMALS BY GIVING FOOD AND BEDING TO MY ANIMAL SOCIETY IN CHICO CALIFORNA

  29. maizey
    51

    to be honest i think you should stop blabbing on about these animals and concentrate on something a little more important for example, you know the third world countries who are dying from starvation. you know PEOPLE dying because they have no money. and then when thats all sorted you can start worrying about your pandas and gorillas.

    • Responses to maizey
      52
      August 29

      Well I don’t think so because well it depends, some pople likes animals and they do want to protect them and by the way animals are very important to humans if they were gone we are also EXTINCT.

  30. Alisha williams
    53

    Hi! my name is Alisha and I’m 12. I’m doing a science fair project on Endangered specie. My science teacher is not helping my partner and I , so we have to figure it out by our selves. Its hard to find any facts,effects,sympotrus,a treatment,and a conclusion. Do you know what web sites we could look up?

    • Responses to Alisha williams
      54
      Kenny Belanger says:
      March 4

      Hi, my name is Kenny and I am 11 years old, I have an assignment in class and I was wondering if you could help me out with some questions, maybe I could interview you? My email address is nsviking6@aim.com, please reply!

  31. dylanbrady
    55

    in class i’m learning about endangered species and my animal is the sperm whale. i’ve found lots of facts and i am still researching.

  32. Chode is win
    56

    Naked is awesome, (sticks finger in butt)

  33. chelsea
    57

    COOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!! lol

  34. Taylor Olson
    58

    I am NOT doing az report on endangered animals!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. megan
    59

    what animal is this?

  36. khalid
    60

    hi my name is Khalid and i LOVE ANIMALS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and we are studying for a exam of animals. :)

  37. Evie
    61

    This helped me greatly with my school project. :)

  38. natasha
    62

    how do penguinsbenifit from adopting them.

  39. DysonsKitty
    63

    Hi im 12 and i need to know how humans are helping the earth right now for a project. Can u help and give me options

  40. xClaster
    64

    i think that we all need to start doing something about these poor creatures that are endangered/extinct.

  41. onlineGuru
    65

    I would like to help save our endangered animals by getting more and more people to try and save these animals.

  42. Astor
    66

    Sadly it all … There is something to think about

  43. Jess
    67

    Hey! Im 14 years old, and im doing a project on Endangered species, and i was wondering How endangered species affect the environment?
    and also When, where, and what is the cause of the problem :) thanks!

  44. Sally
    68

    Hi i’m sally and me and my friend are hear and we want to help endangered species too! please reply asap

  45. Sally
    69

    Um If ali comes on i’m on here! Oh Ali and me are going to talk on here soo we can show people how much we care about this!
    So yeah

  46. Sally
    70

    Hi Ali

  47. ALI Letheby
    71

    HI I’am ALI and i’am 12 and i truley love animals!!!!!!!!! My best friend is Sally freeman and Amber ducane! .ps. do you people think it is crule to keep animals at a zoo ALI*

  48. rochelle
    72

    How can we treat endangered species??…

  49. meghna baruah
    73

    it is indeed very cruel 2 keep animals in the zoo….animals need 2 live in a place which they think is fit 4 their survival…

  50. Voronin
    74

    Great article, and it is also really cool to see the young people above, all taking an interest.

  51. Junior Roberts
    75

    no naked crap.

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  54. What do you have to say?