Endangered Species Day is on the third Friday of May, making it fall on the 19th this year. The day is about promoting the importance of protecting endangered species (plants and animals) across the globe and the ways in which we can all help make a difference.
According to data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, there has been a steady increase in species becoming either threatened or endangered since documentation stated in 1967. To clarify, “endangered” means a species is in serious danger of extinction, and “threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. While extinctions do occur naturally the current rate at which they are happening is hundreds of times higher than the natural rate. However, it is difficult to have a precise figure as many of the endangered species which are disappearing have yet to be identified. The number one cause for this advanced extinction rate is due to humans. This endangered species day let’s make an active effort to reduce this extinct rate. Below are some things that we can do, both individually and together.
Three simple ways you can make a difference:
Education. The best place to start is expanding your knowledge on the topic (so great work for reading this). The internet provides us access to a wealth of knowledge and is a great place to build upon your knowledge. Learning about the causes of extinction and what species are at risk in your area can help guide your actions. Alternatively, you can take a trip to the zoo, aquarium or natural history museum to make the learning process more fun. Look for exhibits on endangered species and take some notes. Often zoos and aquariums participate in protective breeding programs which aim to save dwindling species numbers, so they will be able to provide you with loads of useful information.
Being aware of how we use our resources and the impact they have can go a long way in conservation efforts. Knowing what is in the products we use is very important as many household products we can buy at the supermarket contain toxins that are harmful to the environment, such as pesticides and herbicides. Often these products end up in our waterways, poisoning the marine life. Another great tip is to turn off the lights when you aren’t using them. This means less energy is being used, and the less energy you use, the less energy is needed to be produced by power plants.
Protect and restore habitats. The leading cause of extinction stems from habitat changes. The biggest cause of habitat change is due to human activity. Farming, logging, building dams, and cities all result in massive environmental change. According to scientists, the best way to protect endangered species is to protect the places in which they live.
Wildlife needs a place where they can find food and shelter in order to survive and raise their young. It may seem like you are unable to make an impact on this scale but you can. By focusing on what you can control you can make a huge difference. Be aware of the plants you choose to have in your garden and surrounding area as if they are not native or are an invasive species it is likely they will kill off any native species you have. Encouraging native plants to grow also supports native wildlife as plants are a source of food and shelter to most animals.
Volunteer. Your time is a great asset and can prove to be invaluable. See if you are able to volunteer and help plant trees in your area, or help clean up parklands. Removing plastics from animal habitats can save their lives. Look for events around your community or at a local wildlife refuge. If there are no community tasks in your area why not organise one yourself? Cleanup and restoration projects can support local species and help them survive in a changing environment. Many conservation organisations also accept donations, so there are many ways in which you can help.
Education is the first step to improving any situation. With a combined effort we can make a permanent change. So make the most of this endangered species day and get out there and enjoy nature while also learning about what you can do to help it. If we all decide to do nothing, then we’ll all end up with nothing.
If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope; you will fill yourself with hope.
~ Barack Obama