Hi I'm Agor the Dragon. I'm here to tell you there are many endangered or threatened animals in the world. Some are in danger of becoming extinct.
What does it mean?
If an animal becomes extinct you will never see them again, except for a pile of bones in the ground. That would be very sad.
- Extinction – The complete disappearance of a species
- Endangered – Animals or plants whose numbers are so few they are in danger of becoming extinct
- Threatened – Animals or plants whose total numbers are falling and they are on the way to becoming endangered.
Some people say even Dragons are an endangered species. H,mmm! I don't feel threatened. Do I look sick? Maybe I should see a doctor?
Ok, back to the serious stuff. Endangered animals really are serious.
The extinction of animals is not new. It’s been happening for millions of years. New species evolve and others become extinct. Remember the dinosaurs or the dodo?
When animals become threatened they can move, adapt or die.
But now a lot of animals are threatened with extinction because they can’t adapt and survive in a world that is being constantly changed by humans.
Four of the main reasons why animals become endangered are:
- Habitat loss
- Illegal hunting
- Introduction of a foreign species.
There are more species alive right now on Earth than there have been at any other time. But because humans have destroyed and changed their habitat more species are being threatened with extinction than ever before.
Most of the world’s animal species are insects and we don't even know some of them exist. Scientists estimate that many insect species are becoming extinct. Especially those living in tropical rain forests.
Threatened Species List
We know that a lot of animals are suffering because humans are destroying their habitats and upsetting the balance of nature.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has made a list of animals that are in danger of extinction. It's called the Red List.
The Red List names over 5000 vertebrate animals (animals with a backbone) that are threatened or endangered. A total of 15,589 species face extinction. One in three amphibians, almost half of all freshwater turtles are threatened, one in eight birds and one in four mammals are known to be in danger.
As the human population grew over the past centuries, people cleared large numbers of forests in Europe, China and other parts of the world. This destroyed the habitat of the animals living in those forests.
It's still happening today. Tropical rainforests are being destroyed around the world because their trees are being logged. Rainforests have a delicate natural balance and the special animals that live there depend on this balance. For example, some monkeys and apes feed on the fruit in the tallest trees. Loggers cut down all the tallest trees, leaving only the short ones.
Wild animals, like bears and wolves, have fewer places to live when humans move into their habitat. They are hunted and eventually wiped out in some areas.
Humans also upset the balance of nature by introducing species from other parts of the world into a habitat. The introduced species can kill the native species in the area or take over the food supply.
Examples of Endangered Animals
Gorillas, Pandas, Elephants and the Florida Panther are examples of animals that have been endangered because their habitats are being destroyed, or humans are hunting them to extinction.
Questions to think about
- Why is it important to protect endangered animals?
- How are humans increasing the speed of extinction for many animals?
- Are humans entirely to blame for animals becoming extinct?
- How have recent laws begun to help endangered animals?
- Why is it important to have national parks for animals?
- What can I do to help endangered animals?
Find out more about endangered animals:
- The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Endangered Species Information
- Wild Life Conservation Society
- World Wildlife Fund
- Endangered Species
- Endangered Animal Stories
- Endangered - Exploring a world at risk
- Endangered Animals Word Search
Save an animal and save a world!