All About Animals: The Issues (Ages 11-14): Endangered Species

 

ll around the world thousands of species of animals are fighting for their survival. Mountain gorillas, blue whales, komodo dragons and some types of bears are in danger of becoming extinct. It’s not just animals in exotic locations who are in danger; in Britain there are 14 different types of bats and they are all endangered!

How do animals become extinct?

Habitat Loss

Habitat loss is one of the primary reasons why certain species are endangered. Take the example of the chimpanzee:

Africa’s population doubles every twenty-four years. This massive human growth puts tremendous pressure on natural resources. Forests are cut down to graze cattle, to create living space for people and to provide land to grow crops. The wood is used for firewood, charcoal and building supplies. With the steady decline of the forests, in which the chimpanzee lives, inevitably comes the steady decline of chimpanzee populations.

Human Use

Certain endangered animals are still caught and their meat is sold. It may seem strange and horrible to us, but people actually eat elephants and other wild animals. It is estimated that several elephants are being killed every day in the Congo basin alone for their meat and ivory.

Some animals such as chimpanzees are still taken from the wild and used in laboratories to test medicines and other products on.

Elephants are taken from the wild and forced to drag heavy machines for logging companies. These companies are paid to clear huge areas of forests and so, sadly, the elephants are forced to help destroy their own habitat.

Entertainment

Endangered wild animals are still taken from the wild and put in zoos or used in circuses around the world. While lots of countries, including Britain, have agreed not to do this, there are still many countries which continue to take endangered animals from the wild. In many instances, a whole family group is slaughtered so one baby animal can be taken.

In Pakistan, bears are still used in the “sport” of bear-baiting. The bear is chained by a ring through his nose and a series of dogs are set upon him while the crowd looks on. Both the dogs and the bear sustain horrific injuries and this “sport” is illegal in every country in the world, even in Pakistan where the events are held.

Some people think it is fun to shoot wild animals, even endangered ones. Leopards are under extreme threat of extinction, and yet if you pay 1800 you can track and kill a leopard on a Big Game Hunting Expedition.

Even people who don’t want to add to the threats that endangered species face can do so by accident. Of the seven species of marine turtle, six are endangered. The beaches where they lay their eggs have been taken over by tourists wanting to sit in the sunshine. Many female turtles will not lay their eggs if noise or lighting from local resorts is too great and newly hatched turtles can become disoriented by beachfront developments and may never reach the sea. Speedboats also kill a lot of turtles who, during the mating season, stay near the surface of the sea.

You want more info? This is where to go:

CITES www.cites.org
World Society for the Protection of Animals www.wspa.org.uk

Talk About: Topics to Chat About!
1. Think about ways that people can help endangered animals. Is there anything you can do?
2. Do you care whether or not a species of animal becomes extinct? Why or why not?
3. If a species is not considered “endangered”, should we still protect that species?
4. How would you feel if there were no more tigers, or bears, or elephants in the wild?