May 17 is one day out of the year when endangered species from around the globe are celebrated and given the spotlight that they deserve. Over the span of my career I have been honored and blessed to have bred, cared for, and learned from some of the most incredible and critically endangered species on the planet – Moluccan cockatoos, Mississippi gopher frogs, Cayman Island blue iguanas, Louisiana pine snakes, St. Croix sheep, Eastern indigo snakes, and gopher tortoises – just to name a few. My passion for educating others about how we can help animals grew after caring for these precious and amazing species. Even with all of the work being done in captivity and in the wild, their numbers are still declining exponentially.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as of February 2013, there are 448 animal species and 667 plant species listed as endangered. There are 171 animal species and 150 plant species listed as threatened. But why should we care and why should we take steps to protect them every day?
Why is biodiversity important?
No matter how small an individual species is, they have an important role to play in the larger ecosystem. As a society we rely on these species for various aspects of our own existence. More importantly, every species on the planet has the right to be here, just as much as humans do.
Did you know? At least 40 percent of the world’s economy and 80 percent of the needs of the poor are derived from the biological resources. In addition, the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, sustainable economic development, and adaptive responses to such new challenges as climate change. ~ Convention on Biodiversity
The Animals in This Slideshow are Just a Handful of the Endangered Species Living In Our Backyards Here in North America!
8 Easy Steps That You Can Take To Ensure the Survival of Species:
- Learn about endangered and threatened species in your area. We don’t have to look far across the globe to find endangered species. Hundreds live in our backyards! The first step to protecting endangered species is learning about how interesting and important they are. We have an obligation to protect them, as we continue to encroach upon their habitats. Check out this cool, interactive map where you can click on your state to learn about endangered species in your area and what is being done to help conserve them.
- Connect to the natural world. Visit wildlife refuges, parks, or other open spaces! Get outside! Appreciate the beauty of nature and the species that live there. Some of your closest neighbors are animals! The best way to protect endangered species is to protect where they live. Learn about volunteer opportunities at local nature centers, parks, and wildlife refuges, and AZA accredited zoos, aquariums and insectariums.
- Make your home, neighborhood, and school wildlife friendly. Place decals on windows to reduce the number of bird collisions. Reduce your use of water in your home and garden so that animals that live in or near water can have a better chance of survival. Disinfect bird baths often to avoid disease transmission. Learn more here.
- Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat! Provide food, water, cover, and a place for species to thrive and raise their offspring. You can also plant native flowers, trees, and other vegetation. Native plants attract and sustain native animals. Attracting native insects like bees and butterflies can help pollinate your plants. The spread of non-native species has greatly impacted native populations around the world. Invasive species compete with native species for resources and habitat.
- Minimize or eliminate pesticides and herbicides. Herbicides and pesticides may keep yards looking nice but they are in fact hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife at many levels. Many herbicides and pesticides take a long time to degrade and build up in the soils or throughout the food chain. Predators such as hawks, owls, and coyotes are harmed when they eat poisoned animals. Amphibians (frog, toads and salamanders) are particularly vulnerable to these chemical pollutants and suffer greatly as a result of the high levels of herbicides and pesticides that spread into their habitat from our yards, golf courses and businesses. For more information, check out Beyond Pesticides.
- Recycle and buy sustainable products. Buy recycled paper and sustainable products like bamboo and Forest Stewardship Council wood products to protect forest species. Remember to copy double sided or better yet use technology! Never buy products using wood from rainforests. Recycle your cell phones, because minerals used in cell phones and other electronics is mined in gorilla habitat. Think twice about your food. – Eliminate palm oil because forests where hundreds of endangered species live are being cut down to plant palm oil plantations.
- Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species. When on vacation, be sure you are not purchasing products that are made from local flora and fauna. Instead of buying an exotic animal, find a rescue group – Many exotic animals are wild caught. Make sure that you know exactly where the animal came from, or adopt one from a rescue group that needs a loving, forever home.
- While traveling to and from school or work, or running errands SLOW DOWN and keep an eye out for wildlife!! Many animals live in developed areas and this means they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards. One of the biggest obstacles to wildlife living in developed areas is roads. Roads divide habitat and present a constant hazard to any animal attempting to cross from one side to the other. Keep your eyes on the road to look for the animals that live there too!
Check out the Endangered Species Pod Casts.
Learn more from World Wildlife Fund about species that need protection around the world.