― Jacques-Yves Cousteau
What is an endangered species? Why should all of us be active and more concerned with this issue? Its a fact, the destruction of a single habitat affects many species of animals, plants, insects, and other organisms. The biodiversity of adjacent habitats will remain altered forever. An animal species that is endangered is at serious risk of extinction throughout most or a significant portion of its range. A species is considered " threatened" if it is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. Right now, around the world, the destruction, modification, or restriction of habitat resulting from human activity such as urban development, deforestation, mining, and pollution are the greatest threats to our wildlife. In addition human exploitation of an animal species for recreational, commercial, educational, scientific or other purposes results in diminished populations. Disease, displacement from invasive species and competition among animals for resources are also driving numbers down.
Why should we care? Due to a global increase in air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands, and other man-made environmental changes, extinctions are now occurring at a rate that far exceeds the speciation rate. Every extinction diminishes the complex diversity of life on earth. The loss of one single species may result in few environmental changes. Where we are failing miserably and selfishly is the realization that all life on earth is interconnected. When our species or living connections are destroyed, whole ecosystems fail,. Thrown off balance, our own survival will be jeopardized. The diversity of animal and plant life provides us with food and many of our life-saving medicines. When a species is destroyed, the benefits it may have provided will be gone forever.
What can you do? Get involved. Join an organization which truly fights for the survival of all animal species such as the World Wildlife Fund http://www.worldwildlife.org/initiatives/protecting-species or The National Wildlife Federation http://www.nwf.org/news-and-magazines/national-wildlife.aspx . Educating ourselves and our children is free and its something we can all do. 80% of Americans strongly support ending all commercial trade in elephant ivory in the US. Sadly, the US is one of the largest importers of ivory. The beautiful elephants we see slaughtered by illegal poachers in documentaries and news stories continue to be killed because US citizens and those in other countries consume ivory products. Make sure our government officials are passing and enforcing laws to stop the trade. Protecting elephants, tigers and rhino's from extinction is our collective responsibility. These magnificent creatures have the right to be here and the right to live. If we continue to stand by and do nothing but watch their destruction we are only destroying ourselves.
"The wild places are where we began. When they end, so do we.”
― David Brower