According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, currently, 27% of all assessed species are threatened with extinction, which means more than 31,000 in numbers! In the last 250 years, 571 species have been confirmed extinct.

Have you ever wondered how so many species have become endangered? There are many reasons but to name only some of them: habitat loss, climate change, poaching, loss of genetic variation, and invasive species.

Endangered Species Around the World
Endangered Species Around the World. Graphic by Wire Fence
An endangered species is a species that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either worldwide or in a particular political jurisdiction. Endangered species may be at risk due to factors sch as habitat loss, poaching, and invasive species.

Habitat loss

According to the Global Forest Watch, 72.6 million acres of forests were cleared out last year. That land was home to hundreds or even thousands of animal species. And the reason why these animals have been chased away from their home is human activity, such as agriculture and industrial development.

The most harmful industries to wildlife are the most common ones like construction, lumber, petroleum, livestock, and plant agriculture. When developing an industry, companies are ‘clearing’ pieces of land like the Amazon Rainforest of South America.

Climate Change

Some researchers have estimated that two-thirds of all species of plants and animals could be lost due to tropical deforestation alone. Not only deforestation contributes to climate change, but since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, and thereby raised the average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius.

Sea levels are rising, oceans are becoming warmer and due to this, from polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles on the coast of Africa, and other magnificent species like giraffes, sharks and the great apes of Southeast Asia are becoming endangered.

Extinction can also happen naturally

But don’t forget: extinction can happen naturally, without the involvement of humans, as it happened with dinosaurs. 66 million years ago, an asteroid struck the Earth, and debris was forced into the atmosphere, which reduced the temperature and the amount of light hitting the Earth. Due to this, the climate changed very quickly and dinosaurs were unable to adapt to it so they became endangered, then extinct.

We can help

There is still hope for these animals. We can make a massive change by making some small steps. Starting with educating ourselves and raising awareness about this important issue. Or just researching the origin of the products we buy, making sure they come from a sustainable and ethical business.

We can grow our own native plants or we can just walk instead of driving to our destination. These little actions together can make a big difference.

Emma Spinster
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