Wildlife Protection



Wildlife Protection Explained

 

Habitat loss, climate change, poaching, and pollution paint a bleak picture for threatened and endangered species around the world. The loss of a single species is a tragic event and yet we lose an estimated 10,000 species to extinction every year! Endangered animals in the U.S. include the gray wolf, manatee, ocelot, panther, and many types of bats and whales, but there are countless other undiscovered species threatened by extinction without our knowledge. Species extinctions not only throw ecosystems out of balance, but can impact our food system, economy, and potential scientific and medical breakthroughs.

 

Why Wildlife Matters

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life in any given area. Humans have identified 1.7 million species (groups of living organisms that interbreed) but estimates of total number of species on the planet may total 100 million. Tropical rainforests contain the most biodiversity, and invertebrates (animals without backbones) comprise half of the world’s identified species. Biodiversity makes extinction by disease less likely, as a more diverse population is likelier to adapt and rebound from challenges. Biodiversity enables the ecological services that make the planet liveable for humans: water purification, the production of oxygen, sources of food and medicine, and more.

In the U.S., the Endangered Species Act designates threatened and endangered species and sets up programs to protect their habitats. Globally, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) unites the international community in protecting endangered species from human exploitation. These laws and others like them recognize the value of wildlife and represent important steps towards protecting biodiversity.

Because of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all the species in an ecosystem, the elimination of just one can have drastic and sudden effects on those remaining. There are five known mass extinctions in the earth's long history, and many scientists say that humans are creating the sixth mass extinction today. This mass extinction is happening through the legal and illegal trade in at-risk species, expanding cities which destroy habitats, and human-driven climate change. These changes are happening so rapidly that many animals cannot adapt.

 

What You Can Do

 

EarthShare member organizations are protecting the at-risk species in our backyards and around the world. Supporting these organizations is a simple first step you can take to defend wildlife.

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