We live in a world full of many animals, insects, plants, and creatures that are approaching risk of extinction – or are so close to extinction – that their species need help immediately.
When a species is defined as endangered, its numbers are unusually low – in the last few thousands, hundreds, or even tens. And when the last of the species is gone, they are gone for good.
This day was created to keep us aware of how fragile the existence of some animals, plants, and insects is – and, most importantly, reminds us to take the time to learn about why it’s so important to protect endangered species from any further harm.
History of Endangered Species Day
Since time began, there have been endangered species. Perhaps one of the earliest and most learned about extinctions in history is that of the dinosaurs. However, an endangered species is one which is still in the world today, but may not be much longer if the right steps aren’t taken.
The International Union decides the status of ‘endangered’ for the Conservation of Nature. According to the IUCN, at least 40% of animals, insects, and plants are at risk of extinction across the world.
Some ways of helping endangered species have included captive breeding, which sees endangered or rare species in captivity encouraged to breed to improve their numbers in the wild.
Reasons for endangerment are varied – this may be down to environmental changes, overhunting by predators, poaching, the changing or destruction of habits by humans, or natural disasters, to name a few.
The first Endangered Species Day was held in 2006, but there’s been official recognition of the issue for far longer than that. Laws have been on the books for more than forty years designed to protect species. In some countries, for instance, rules forbid economic development if it puts a particular species at risk of extinction. Many stipulations also prevent people from developing areas that are of exceptional ecological significance, such as bird breeding grounds and diverse swampland.
At root, Endangered Species Day is designed to help people learn more about the environmental issues that the planet faces today. It isn’t about getting in people’s faces or even activism. Instead, it is to come together to find creative, win-win ways to solve the environmental problems that we have and protect the natural world. After all, we must all live in it!
The organizers of the day celebrate it through various public events and online. Typically, there are story readings from popular children’s books about the importance of looking after endangered species. There are also documentaries and lecture updates on the current state of conservation around the world and how species are thriving (or not as the case may be). And there are film screenings that communicate the issues the community wishes to express.
Apps are also playing an increasingly important role in proceedings. Rather than just showing people pre-produced content, the organizers are getting regular people involved through their smartphones. The What’s In My Backyard? identification challenge is a fun way for people to chronicle the various species living in their gardens and get a sense of how diverse they are.
Endangered species day reminds us all that some of our favorite creatures are at risk of going extinct. According to the IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species, there are now more than 16,000 species of fungi, algae, plants, and animals that might disappear from our planet forever. Among them are iconic creatures such as the bald eagle, the alligator, and the gray wolf.
The Encyclopedia Britannica suggests that around half of all species on the list are endangered because of human activities. Issues such as global warming, an abundance of invasive species, overfishing, and overhunting are the driving forces behind the current crisis. There’s a tremendous need for a worldwide conservation effort to prevent many of the species that we dearly cherish from being lost forever. The good news, though, is that there’s a lot that you can do.
How to celebrate Endangered Species Day
There are always a number of wildlife conservation services taking part in Endangered Species Day, often holding informational events for children and adults or activity days to help fund further conservation.
If you are local to an event, make sure to pop along with your children and learn about the weird and wonderful creatures efforts such as this are trying to save.
Or take the time out to read up on some of the species that are approaching extinction, and if you are able to go to a zoo which has some of these species in their care, be sure to organize paying a visit with your family.
Make sure you use the hashtag #endangeredspeciesday on social media and be sure to share pictures of some of the cutest and majestic endangered critters to really get people’s attention!
You can show your support for worldwide wildlife conservation efforts through official channels too. For instance, you can join the millions of people who are already members of the Wildlife Federation.
You can also do small things like update your Facebook profile cover photo with your favorite endangered species. When people ask why you made the change, you can tell them that you’re celebrating Endangered Species Day and a part of worldwide conservation efforts.
The bottom line is this: the more we take care of all the species on our planet, the better it will be. And that’s what makes this particular day of the year so important.