The Earth is currently experiencing its sixth major animal extinction event. One out of four of the world’s mammals and over 40 percent of amphibians are threatened with extinction due to human activity including habitat destruction, overexploitation, climate change, and pollution, and human overpopulation.
Under the ESA, species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.
The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted in 1973 and was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Since its enactment, the ESA has proven to be an effective safety lifeline for imperiled species. Extinction has been prevented for more than 98 percent of the animals under its care. Without the ESA, over 2,000 animal and plant species could face extinction.
There are multiple ways to help prevent the threat of endangered species from increasing: educating people about endangered species in the area, recycling and buying sustainable products, growing native plants, reducing water consumption, not buying or using plastic products, reducing carbon footprint, and avoiding the use of pesticides.
The greatest threat that faces many species is the widespread destruction of habitat. Scientists tell us the best way to protect endangered species is to protect the special places where they live. Wildlife must have places to find food, shelter, and raise their young.
Logging, oil and gas drilling, overgrazing, and development all result in habitat destruction. Endangered species habitats should be protected and these impacts minimized.
Lists of endangered animals include:
Northern White Rhinoceros
African Wild Dog