More than 99% of all the species that have ever lived on planet Earth are now extinct.
Extinctions happen for a variety of reasons, including disease, being out-competed for resources by another species, an inability to adapt to a changing environment, and natural disasters.
It's a natural balance for species to die out as new ones emerge, but sometimes species die out at a high rate over a short period of time, drastically reducing the amount of diversity on Earth. Such mass extinctions have happened five times throughout history, including the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Unfortunately, habitat destruction, pollution, overhunting, and introducing invasive species has put the planet into a sixth mass extinction event. Because humans are directly to blame for this, scientists have named it the Anthropocene Defaunation.
Humans may have created this mess, but we are also in a position to help bring many of these species back from the brink. Dedicated conservation efforts in Thailand have already seen an increase in tigers. Fortunately, everyone has the ability to help endangered animals, no matter where they live:
- Support global leaders who want to increase penalties for logging or hunting on protected land.
- Buy products that are sustainably sourced.
- Reduce your personal carbon footprint, thus reducing the burden on the environment.
- Avoid jewelry and decorations made from wildlife such as furs, ivory, or tortoise shells.
Together, we can work to save the lives and habitats of endangered animals around the world.
Matthew Santoro introduces 10 iconic animals that humans are driving toward extinction, but which we can still save if we all make an effort: