Saving Species: EarthShare Success Stories

It’s a sobering statistic: at least 10,000 unique species become extinct each year. Habitat development, poaching, disease and climate change are some of the major causes of what many in the scientific community believe to be the sixth mass extinction in the earth’s history. And, unfortunately, we humans are mostly to blame. So why does species extinction matter?  

Besides the inherent value of all living things, humans benefit from biodiversity. There's much that we still don't know about how ecosystems and biological communities function, but we do know that no creature exists in isolation. Check out “Why Species Endangerment Matters from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which outlines some top reasons why we should care about the impact we have on other living creatures.  

The picture isn’t all bad. Many species that were once threatened or on the brink of extinction have flourished thanks in large part to the work of EarthShare member organizations. Here are seven that came back with their help:

 

Florida Black Bear

Ralph-s-bear-in-tree_1
National Park Service

Thanks to efforts by EarthShare member groups like Defenders of Wildlife (they established a Florida black bear conservation initiative in 1994), the Florida black bear was removed from the state’s endangered species list in August 2012. In the 1940s and 50s, habitat loss, development and excessive hunting had left the population at only 300-500 individuals.  After improved land management and a serious recovery effort, the population has recovered to between 2,500 and 3,000 bears in the state of Florida.

 

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab

Animals-bluecrab-slide2-web
National Aquarium

Although not an endangered species, the iconic and popular Chesapeake Bay blue crab reached its lowest numbers ever in the last decade. But after conservation measures were taken starting in 2008, it had the highest population recorded in 20 years in summer 2012 and was subsequently removed from the “overfished” list. The National Aquarium suspects that the upswing was the result of stricter harvesting regulations. Environmental Defense Fund and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay are two groups taking action to protect this and other Chesapeake Bay species.

 

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine2
National Park Service

The pesticide DDT nearly wiped out this majestic bird by the 1970s, but a ban on the chemical along with the dedicated work of EarthShare member The Peregrine Fund brought the species back to health. The group released over 4000 captive-reared birds into the wild over 25 years and the peregrine falcon was removed from the endangered species list in 1999. Now the organization protects many birds of prey around the world.

 

Gray Whale

Gray_Whale_Hero_image_(c)_naturepl.com_Mark_Carwardine_WWF
World Wildlife Fund

Because of extensive hunting up until the 20th century, gray whales nearly went extinct globally, but today they number over 20,000 individuals. Groups like Oceana and World Wildlife Fund closely monitor and protect gray whales from threats like oil and gas development and commercial fishing “bycatch,” marine creatures that are caught in nets while fishing for another species. Such protections helped 2012 see a record high number of calves born. Still, this eastern gray whale population which migrates between Alaska/Siberia and Mexico is doing much better than its western cousins. The latter, which migrate between Russia and China, remain critically endangered at just over 100 individuals.

 

Gray Wolf

Gray wolf
Defenders of Wildlife

At the end of 2011, there were more than 1700 wolves in the Northern Rockies. This was a great improvement from the mere 200 individuals counted in 1997 and a testament to the efforts of conservation groups, particularly Earthjustice and Defenders of Wildlife. Sadly, this success has come at a price: the gray wolf’s removal from the endangered species list by Congress in 2011 has resulted in a flurry of wolf killings across Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Our members continue to be outspoken advocates for this iconic species, publishing weekly reports on the status of the gray wolf and working within the legal system to ensure its survival.

 

Bison

Bison
National Wildlife Federation

Bison, an iconic part of the American frontier identity, were once a common sight across the Great Plains, but they were hunted to near extinction by the end of the 1800s. Fast forward to 2011 when the National Wildlife Federation and Earthjustice worked with Indian tribes in the region to return wild bison herds to the prairie after an incredible century-long absence.  With such efforts, the thought of seeing bison herds roam freely and widely across the west once more is a dream within reach.

 

Indiana Bat

Indiana bats
US Fish and Wildlife Service

Indiana bats were put on the endangered species list in 1967 and their population has been falling ever since, but conservation work by Bat Conservation International has grown the population in one important habitat from just dozens in 1998 to nearly 7000 in 2007. Bat Conservation International is also at the forefront of methods to protect these pollinators from white-nose syndrome and wind energy projects. With their efforts and those of groups like Audubon, clean energy projects and wildlife protection can go hand-in-hand.

 

Want to learn about other animals that survived the threat of extinction? Read WWF’s article Back from the Brink. Then check out our EarthShare Wildlife Protection page for more information about how you can help save threatened wildlife.



Comments

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y.carter

Thank you so much for making this planet a safe and wonderful place for these incredible species!

tadele beyene

let as give our attention to climatic change!

Roger Harris (@savingspecies)

Thank you for your great work and for sharing success stories. It's important to know that we have cause to be hopeful. Our big success story is in Brazil's Atlantic rainforest where our strategic land purchases helped restore habitat for the golden lion tamarin, one of the world's most endangered primates.

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