Endangered Species


Some animals and plants in our world are very common, like houseflies, cats or daisies. They are not in danger of dying out. Other species are very rare. Sometimes only a few of them are left. Such species may disappear forever.

Ever since life on earth began, animals and plants have died out and new ones have appeared. Dinosaurs, for example, roamed the planet during the earth’s middle ages. 65 million years ago, they disappeared forever.

Animals and plants need each other to survive. They keep the world of nature in balance. If a certain plant dies out, some animals may become extinct too, because they depend on the plant for food.

Image:  Clker-Free-Vector-Images
via Pixabay

Why Species Become Extinct

Long ago, most animals and plants became extinct because of natural events, like earthquakes or volcano eruptions. Climatic changes, like the beginning of the Ice Age, also led to the disappearance of certain species. Today, plants and animals are in danger mostly because of human beings


Some plants and animals can survive in many areas. When they move to other places, they adapt to their new environment very quickly. Others can only live in certain areas. We call such a living place a habitat. If a habitat is destroyed, the species cannot find any more food or a place to live, sleep or have babies. So it dies out.

Habitats can be destroyed in many ways. More and more people live in our world. They need more space to live in. Rainforests, grasslands and other parts of nature are cleared and people start to settle there. They take away the natural home of plants and animals.

Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest
Image: Daniele GidsickiCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pollution can also kill off certain species. Acid rain from factories goes down in rivers and lakes and can poison fish there.

The most endangered areas are the tropical rainforests. More than 50 % of all animals and plants live there. Every day, thousands of acres of rainforest are destroyed and many species become extinct every day.

Ever since man appeared on earth he has killed animals and gathered plants. They have been used for food, medicine, clothes and to make homes. Cheetahs, tigers and other wild cats have been killed for their skins. Whales have been hunted for centuries because of their oil and blubber.

Most animals today are protected by international law, but many, like the black rhinoceros and the African elephant are hunted illegally. Some species, like wolves, have been killed by humans because they were seen as a danger to farm animals.

The African elephant is in danger of becoming extinct
Image:  Bernard DUPONT from FRANCECC BY-SA 2.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes native animals become endangered when a new species comes to live in a place. Foxes were brought to Australia to kill off rabbits, which were seen as a pest. But instead of killing rabbits, the foxes killed kangaroos and other marsupials of Australia.

Parasites belong to the greatest threats to plants and animals. Tiny organisms, bacteria and fungi can destroy trees, kill birds and fish.

How Can Endangered Species Be Protected

People have hurt plants and animals, but they are also willing to help them survive. All over the world organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, the Rainforest Action Network or Friends of the Earth are helping to protect habitats. They raise money for their projects and make governments and the public listen to them. New laws have also been made to protect endangered plants and animals all over the world.

Endangered Animals

The African elephant
Image: Andreas from Pixabay

African and Indian elephants are killed for their tusks, which are used for ivory earrings and other art objects

The giant panda
Image:  Dim Hou from Pixabay

The giant panda lives in zoos and in some parts of China. There are only about 1,500 left in the world today

Alligator in Louisiana
Image:  RENE RAUSCHENBERGER from Pixabay

Reptiles (lizards, crocodiles and alligators) are killed for their skins. People make leather handbags and shoes.

Sea Turtle
Image: Brocken InagloryCC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

Sea turtles are in danger because people often collect their eggs. They often die in the sea because of water pollution.

Siberian Tiger
Image: AppaloosaCC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

There are only about five thousand tigers left in the world today. They live in southern Asia, mostly in national reserves.

Bald Eagle
Image:  Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

The bald eagle is the national symbol of the USA. The bird almost died out at the beginning of the century, but today the population is stable.

Endangered Plants

p> For centuries, the Bermuda cedar was cut down because people needed material for houses and furniture. Conservationists have helped protect the trees that are left .

Some cactus types are in danger of becoming extinct because they grow slowly and are hurt by animals.

One out of three cacti are in danger of becoming extinct
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The World Wildlife Fund

In 1960, biologist Sir Julian Huxley returned from a research trip to Africa. He was very much shocked by what he had seen there: the hunting of rare animals and the destruction of their habitat. Other scientists shared his opinion that something had to be done about this. The following year, Huxley, some fellow scientists and a few politicians founded the World Wildlife Fund. It became the largest conservation group in the world.

Today, the WWF has 5 million supporters around the world. It has national organisations in more than 50 countries and raises more than 100 million dollars a year.

The most important task of the WWF is to protect endangered species around the world. Among them are the tiger, whale, elephant and many others. The giant panda, one of the most endangered animals, has become the WWF logo.

The WWF also tries to protect habitats like the tropical rainforest. In the past decade alone, it has been able to conserve over 1 billion acres of forest in Asia, South America and Africa.

The organisation fights against the pollution of natural resources, and it is worried about the destruction of fish in the world’s oceans.

Over the past years, the WWF has been working on projects in over one hundred countries. It also gives money to research work and spends a lot to teach children and parents about our world in danger.

The giant panda has become the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund
ImageJ. Patrick Fischer




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