and the Mekong Giant Salmon Carp. As diverse as these species are, they have one thing in common: a rapid decline in their populations, which put them on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. According to IUCN data, 1,219 mammal species are critically endangered or possibly extinct worldwide. Human activity contributes a great big deal to this large-scale destruction of many of our fellow mammal species by claiming their habitats, by unsustainably killing their populations, and by causing them irreversible health problems from pollution.
The research, conservation and appropriate management of threatened species is a difficult task that requires the involvement of inter-/national and local governments, experts, and even better support from individuals. These species have better chances of survival with the help of every single one of us, because we all share this planet’s space and resources together. Here are some suggestions of what you can do to help.
As the quote from Amanda Lindhout suggests, the first step to helping is learning; and in this case learning what species are threatened in your country and why. Pick endangered species of your interest and read about them to get some basic knowledge. The more you know about these species, the more you can do to prevent further destruction of their habitat. It is often the lack of knowledge that makes the situation worse. And this can be easily changed if the majority of people would avoid wasteful or destructive habits.
Watch out for tricky chemicals
Chemical substances, such as herbicides and pesticides, might save you lot of time and work on your garden, but they come with a heavy chemical burden to our environment. They remain in the soil for a long time, altering natural cycles of elements, and even posing risks to our health through as they build-up in the food chain. Animals sensitive to chemical changes in their habitat, such as amphibians, are greatly affected by our overuse of these substances.
The same rule can be applied to the use of cosmetics with microbeads made from plastic, especially polyethylene or polypropylene. They are microscopic, but they cause great pollution in water bodies and harm the health of animals living there.
Be a picky customer
Ask about the origins of a product and when possible buy only organically produced goods from local sources. Products from your region come with a lower carbon footprint, and by buying from local producers you support small business owners.
Probably the biggest threat for many species is the extensive loss of habitat. Original habitats are being destroyed on a massive scale by activities like deforestation, agriculture, mining or urbanization. It mainly happens to sustain our quality of life, and that is why you should respect the quality of life of other species when visiting their environment.
When you go for a walk outdoors, do not forget to leave the area clean. Follow fire regulations but do not leave behind any trash, do not pluck flowers, and don’t disturb wildlife. Just as Gautama Buddha said:
“When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily.”
So just simply love nature, it is the best thing to do.
Share your space with other living things
Many people dream of living in a house with a large garden. But the increasing invasion of humans into ecosystems is a leading cause of species endangerment. When deciding on moving to a new place, think twice about the space you need. A good option might be to move to an already inhabited area rather than building a house from scratch on a green meadow.
One big thing you can do to support local fauna and flora is to create a little oasis of native plants for beneficial insects and birds. It will provide them with food and shelter, which is just what they seek.
Get involved in local matters
Go to public hearings to learn about the newest developments in your area, and emphasize to others how sustainability and conservation of biodiversity are prerequisites for a development project to go ahead. Furthermore, the protection of endangered species deserves to be addressed during these hearings. Learn more about how local activities affect endangered species and what can be done about it. Speak up for them at those meetings.
The biggest gift you can give is to donate your time by volunteering at a wildlife refuge, a national park, or for a non-profit organization that works to protect endangered species or their natural habitats. Thanks to determined people, who spend their free time helping, good news such as the Giant Panda’s recovery story can be seen. Panda populations have increased mainly due to the successful transition of Chinese forests to sustainable management ¹. Needless to say, that during such transitions human resources are always needed.