As lobby groups and environmental organisations continue to push governments across the world into taking drastic measures to curb the acceleration of global warming, it is perhaps fair to say that other environmental issues may be in danger of being pushed aside. People need to remember that climate change is not the only scourge to the health of our planet; the protection of endangered species, for instance, remains a paramount concern to many people intent on the preservation of natural wildlife across the world.
What makes a species ‘endangered’? Generally speaking, a species can be said to be in danger of extinction if it is few in number or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. The twentieth century saw the importance of protecting certain species from extinction – particularly with the pioneering efforts of organisations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has been protecting endangered species since its inception in 1961.
The UN estimates that nearly 100 species are lost every day – a staggering statistic. The major species protected by groups like the WWF include: tigers, great whales, marine turtles, elephants, gorillas, of which fewer than 650 are left, and giant pandas, of which only 800 are estimated to exist in the wild today.
However, these are only a selection of the thousands of endangered species that exist across the world. Their survival is crucial for a number of reasons – including that they serve as umbrella species; this means that their survival also helps numerous other species that live in the same habitats.
The early efforts of organisations like the WWF were essential in passing crucial legislation for the protection of endangered species; this includes the Endangered Species Act of 1973 in America, which was designed to protect plant and animal species from becoming extinct. Since this time, global awareness of the importance of protecting endangered species has skyrocketed. In the late 1990s, high street shops began to see the importance of animal protection – retailers like The Body Shop, for example, designed an entire range of products on the protection of endangered species, and saw their popularity increase dramatically.
In the last few years, more effort has been made to involve children in the fight for the protection of endangered species. Recently, the WWF has entered into a partnership with Doubletree Hotels Teaching Kids to Care initiative in order to spread awareness of the dangers and facts surrounding endangered species, as well as to stress importance of protecting them. Such efforts represent an important step in the protection of animals facing extinction; after all, we aim to save the environment and preserve our wildlife so that these children can enjoy a better future.