What Does the Term ‘Endangered Species’ Mean?
At one point or another, you are bound to have heard the term ‘endangered species’. But you may be wondering exactly what is meant by this. For some people, it conjures up images of animals who are close to extinction. For others, people think of animals who are given protective status and who live in specialized animal centers.
Within the term ‘endangered species’, there are a few different classifications. We will discuss all of these in more detail, so you will certainly feel more knowledgeable about the subject after finishing this article.
What is Meant by Species?
Before we start getting into the endangered part, we will look closer at what is meant by species. This could be an animal, plant, or any type of lifeform on the planet. There are so many different species out there that we can’t give an accurate estimate of exactly how many there, but there are certainly millions – with more being discovered on a regular basis. While some of these species are thriving, there are plenty more that are not doing so well. And there are others still that are really in danger of dying out if some sort of intervention isn’t made.
What is Meant by Endangered Species?
Experts are always monitoring different sorts of species to determine how well they are doing. There are plenty of important questions that need asking such as whether the habitat of the species is shrinking and the rate at which this is happening. There is also the need to make an estimate of how many individual members of the species are around, and whether this number is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. And if the answer is dropping, it needs to be determined how quickly this is happening. Also, experts need to look at the current threats that the species is facing and whether action is currently being taken to protect them.
Some people put endangered species in different levels of severity. The three most commonly used are critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable. Let’s have a quick look at each of these threatened species definitions in more detail.
- Critically Endangered
This is the terms given to the most endangered of species facing a critically high risk of extinction in the wild.
Next, we have species which are still in trouble, but the threat is not quite as severe. Still, they are up against a very high risk of extinction.
One step lower is vulnerable, which is a species that that is still facing a high level of threat, but lower than the two other critical extremes.
How Many Species are Classified as Endangered?
There are almost 100,000 species that are at risk and put on the IUCN Red List. More than 26,500 are threatened with extinction. This Red List is updated on a regular basis. If things have improved thanks to conservation efforts, the species can be ‘downlisted’. For example, it can be moved down from endangered and vulnerable. There are also species that can be ‘uplisted’ as well.
What Factors Cause a Species to Become Endangered?
Now, you may be wondering what causes a species to become endangered in the first place. Let’s look at a few of the top factors, in turn, to help clarify what is causing the problem.
- Destruction of Environment
As you may have already guessed, destruction of their environment has to rank near the top of the list of reasons why species become extinct. And as human beings, we are contributing to this problem in a big way. Some of the activities that could cause an issue include urban development, agriculture, pollution, deforestation, agriculture, and mining. Ultimately, this is an issue that only we can do something about.
- Human Exploitation
Another harmful issue that affects animals is when humans exploit them for various reasons ranging from the commercial and recreational to the scientific. Poaching is still a major problem in plenty of parts of the world where endangered species live. Of course, there are plenty of organizations that work hard to protect these species and preserve their lifespan.
- Competition and Predation
For thousands of years before humans started intervening, species would go extinct due to competition from other animals. Sometimes, invasive species would entirely displace a pre-existing species. This is what Darwin was referring to when he talked about ‘survival of the fittest’ and it is an ongoing factor that impacts animals. Other times, a species will find itself in danger due to predation from another species.
The final main reason why a species can become extinct is that a sudden disease outbreak ravages the population of it. This threat is evolving all the time and we don’t know exactly where it is going to come from next.
How To Protect Endangered Species
Protecting endangered species is the task that various environmental groups have given themselves, but there is also plenty that you can do as an average citizen to support the cause. So, let’s look at a few ways that you can do this.
Learn More About Endangered Species
The first thing to do is learn more about endangered species – particularly those in your area. By learning how interesting and important these species are, you are making yourself aware and you can then pass on this knowledge to friends, family, and those closest to you. As humans, we are often made to feel like we are separate from nature and ‘above it’ in certain ways. Knowledge is the first step in redressing this balance and realizing that we are a part of nature and it is such an important part of our lives.
- Visit a Wildlife Refuge
While zoos do protect some endangered species, there is some debate as to how ethical they are. And this also varies from zoo to zoo. Instead, you could look into visiting a national wildlife refuge or nature center. Pay an admission fee or make a donation and you are also contributing in a financial way. Alternatively, you could end up deciding to volunteer some of your time to the cause. You may even discover a place nearby to you that you never knew about before – and this could lead to a new hobby or passion that you pass onto others.
- Buy Sustainable Products and Recycle
One of the most common actions that people are taking these days is educating themselves, thereby becoming more responsible consumers. As our demand for goods increases, more and more of the world suffers as a result. Check where the wood from your furniture is coming from and avoid any that uses endangered trees. Avoid using any products that contain palm oil as this has led to huge deforestation in areas where rare creatures like tigers and orangutans live. And it should already go without saying, but you should never buy any products that come from threatened or endangered species. Once you have finished using a product, you should always ensure that it is recycled correctly. Unfortunately, too many people don’t make this effort and things end up in landfills that simply shouldn’t be there.
- Reduce Your Personal Footprint
Another thing that people are thinking about is their own personal ‘footprint’ on the world. You can reduce this impact by making various lifestyle switches. For example, you can drive less and walk more. You can take fewer flights and holiday more in your own country. You can reduce the amount of meat that you are consuming in your diet and switch to one that is more plant-based. You can stop using plastic bottles and buy one that is refillable instead. This is a hot topic that is being discussed at the moment, and there is certainly plenty that you can do yourself, so why not research the steps that you can take today?
- Grow Native Plants
One of the most satisfying things that you can do to protect local wildlife is by growing native plants in your garden. This helps to attract native insects such as bees and butterflies, which will, in turn, pollinate the plants. You are also providing food and shelter for native wildlife.
In conclusion, the endangered animals meaning is any species that is under threat of extinction. While we tend to put our focus on the big land mammals, there are plenty of animals from across the spectrum that are struggling to survive. ‘Endangered’ covers a range of different levels, with ‘critically endangered’ being the most serious. There are plenty of reasons why animals become endangered, but many of the issues can be traced back to us as human beings. While this a depressing thought, it also means that there are things that you can do yourself to help in both big and small ways. Whether this is by volunteering your time, making a donation, or changing something about your lifestyle, if every person makes a change, it will make all the difference in the world.
10 Easy Things You Can Do to Save Endangered Species – Endangered