Today is Endangered Species Day, friends. Recognized annually on May 19, this important day is an opportunity for all of us to voice our support for environmental conservation, refresh our knowledge about threatened species, and look for new ways to help at-risk wildlife in our own backyards. Below, we’ve compiled a few tips and FAQs to help you do just that.
What is an endangered species?
Simply put, it’s a species in danger of becoming extinct in the near future. Examples of endangered species include the red panda, the snow leopard, the loggerhead sea turtle, and the blue whale. Some species — such as the red wolf and the Florida panther — are considered critically endangered and face an extremely high risk of extinction.
Who decides which species are endangered?
There are multiple endangered species lists, though the best-known one is created by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN maintains its list with the help of researchers, wildlife veterinarians, marine biologists, and other plant and animal experts around the world.
What causes animals to become endangered?
There are a variety of factors at play. While humans are not at fault for the disappearance of every extinct species (think of dinosaurs, for instance), we do bear the responsibility for most threats facing today’s endangered animals.
In the book Last of the Giants: The Rise and Fall of Earth’s Most Dominant Species, author and wildlife expert Jeff Campbell explores the role humans play in driving animals to extinction. He writes that “scientists generally agree that most extinctions today are the result of some combination of four main causes: habitat change, pollution, introduced invasive species, and human hunting or killing … and all relate to us.”
What can I do to help endangered species?
If you live in the United States, you can call or write to your representatives and voice your support for protecting the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Multiple lawmakers, including Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), are currently attempting to weaken the ESA and its protections for threatened wildlife. Additional information about legislative threats to the ESA are available at the Center for Biological Diversity Newsroom.
You can also stay informed about opportunities to help endangered species around the globe by following non-profit conservation organizations — such as The Jane Goodall Institute or Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Lastly, you can educate yourself about endangered species living in your own region of the world, and then support and volunteer with organizations working to protect them.
How do I identify endangered species in my community?
To search for endangered species by region, we recommend this easy-to-use search tool from EarthsEndangered.com to identify at-risk species in your own backyard.
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