Is wildlife in danger?

Many of us have a favourite wild animal, such as a tiger or bear.

But did you know that many wild animals and plants are now rare? Some may soon die out.

People are causing this problem. We hunt animals and destroy wild places.

Luckily, some groups are working to save rare plants and animals. We can all help.

Bison and many butterflies are rarer than they used to be.

Extinct animals and plants are ones that have died out altogether. Wildlife that is very rare is called endangered.

Endangered animals may be large like a bison, or small creatures like a butterfly. Hunters almost wiped out the bison. Many butterflies are threatened by global warming as well as by people destroying the wild places where they live.

Dinosaurs died out long ago.

A species is a particular type of plant or animal, such as the American bison. Extinction is when all the animal or plants of one type die out, so that none are left.

In the past, many species have died out, often because they couldn’t cope with natural changes. The dinosaurs probably died out after a meteorite struck Earth and made conditions change very quickly. Now global warming is making conditions change quickly, too.

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How we can help the wildlife which is currently in danger?

We must do more to protect nature. Experts say thousands of plants and animals may die out in the next fifty years or so.

Loss of wild habitats, global warming and pollution are all big problems in many places.

People all over the world are now working hard to save rare species. But it can only work if we all help.

Conservation groups help to save rare species such as whales.

Campaign groups such as the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) have helped to save many rare species. Greenpeace helped to convince many countries to ban whaling, in order to save whales from extinction.

Everyone can help with conservation work by joining a wildlife organisation. You could take part in a sponsored walk to raise money for your favourite animal.

In China, people are working to save pandas.

In China, giant pandas are in danger of dying out because of loss of their forest habitat. Only 1,000 of these animals remain.

Twelve forest reserves have been set up to save pandas in the wild. Zoos have also managed to breed baby pandas from captive animals. Captive breeding projects like this are very expensive, so they can only help to save a few species.

A ban on hunting protects this beautiful butterfly.

In the 1970s, many governments signed an agreement called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

CITES bans trade in most wild animals including this birdwing butterfly. Sadly the profits that can be made from wildlife are big and many people ignore the law.

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Which unwanted visitors are endangering wildlife?

When people bring new species into a habitat, they can threaten local plants and animals.

The new plants and animals can also cause big changes in their new habitat.

Plant-eaters take the food of local animals, while new hunters kill local wildlife.

People brought mongooses to hunt rats, but they became pests.

People have brought new animal hunters to many areas. Mongooses were introduced to Puerto Rico to hunt rats. But they soon threatened local snakes and spread the disease rabies to other animals on the island.

Rabbits brought to Australia nibble pastures bare.

New wildlife brought to Australia caused great changes there. Some of the newcomers took over from local species.

European settlers released rabbits in Australia. The new arrivals bred quickly and became pests, stripping grasslands bare. This left nothing for local species. Rabbits are now killed as pests.

Water hyacinth is now a pest on many waterways.

New plants as well as animals can become pests when they thrive in their new homes.

In the 19th century, a pretty plant called the water hyacinth from South America was released in lakes and ponds in North America, Africa and Asia. It spread quickly and now completely chokes waterways in many areas.

Hedgehogs brought to the Hebrides steal birds’ eggs.

Animals of remote islands are particularly threatened by new predators because they are often not used to being hunted.

On the lonely Hebrides Islands in Scotland, local seabirds are threatened by hedgehogs. These were brought to the islands to eat snails and slugs in people’s gardens, but they now prey on birds’ eggs.

Scientists are trying to reduce the numbers of hedgehogs on the islands. But there is a lot of disagreement between the bird lovers and the hedgehog lovers.

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How can the animal homes be saved?

All over the world, wildlife groups are working to save rare wildlife. This is called conservation.

Creating nature reserves helps to protect rare species. This saves whole areas of habitat.

People also need to take better care of nature everywhere. We should live in ways that don’t harm wildlife.

Tourists visit reserves to see rare animals such as these manatees.

Many people visit reserves to see wild plants and animals in natural settings. The visitors pay a fee which helps to pay for conservation work in the park. This is called eco-tourism.

Reserves also provide jobs and money for local people. Rare mammals called manatees are protected in US coastal reserves.

This coral reef is in a nature reserve.

In many parts of the world, reserves and national parks now protect wild areas. Building and mining is banned in these areas, and no one is allowed to pick plants or harm wild animals.

Marine reserves are just as important as parks on land. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is a protected coral reef.

Ladders help salmon to swim upriver to lay their eggs.

Many animals make yearly journeys to safe places where they can breed. Fish such as salmon, birds and whales all make these regular journeys, called migrations. Salmon swim upriver to breed. If dams block their way, the fish cannot breed successfully.

Many dams now have ladders. A ladder is a series of steps and pools, one above the other, that help the salmon to swim upriver.

Wildlife workers protected this rare bird by taking it to a tiny new island home.

Endangered animals sometimes have to be moved to places of safety, called sanctuaries, for their own protection. In New Zealand, the introduction of cats and other predators brought the flightless Takahe to the edge of extinction.

Conservationists took some of the last birds and released them on a tiny island offshore, which was first made safe from predators. Cats, weasels, and rats were removed to make the island safe.

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Which actions of human are responsible for disappearing homes of natural habitant?

As human numbers grow, more and more wild land is used to grow crops and raise animals.

Today many farmers also use chemicals to grow bumper crops. These harm wild creatures.

Fields that were once home to all kinds of wildlife now hold just one crop.

Chemicals that kill weeds and pests kill all kinds of wildlife.

Many farmers spray their crops with chemicals to get rid of weeds and insects. These poisons kill all kinds of wildlife. However, organic farmers grow crops without using chemicals. Many more species are found on their farms.

Prairie chickens almost died out due to habitat loss in the US.

Wild grasslands such as the American prairies once covered large areas on mangy continents.

Now much of this wild land has been ploughed up to grow crops. This has driven wild birds such as prairie chickens to the point of extinction.

Goats have eaten all the grass on this farm in Africa.

Farmers rear herds of cattle, sheep and goats on land that is too poor for crops. But sometimes domestic animals strip all the vegetation, so wild creatures have nothing to eat.

If all the grass is eaten, winds and storms can blow or wash away the soil. This problem is called erosion.

Barn owls can be poisoned by chemicals used in farming.

When farmers spray their fields to get rid of pests, wild animals are affected too. The poison can spread through the food chain.

Mice absorb the chemicals when they eat grain that has been sprayed. The poison is stored in their bodies. Barn owls that eat poisoned mice may die, too.

Picture Credit : Google