Endangered Species Day 2023: May 19th
Every year on the third Friday in May, thousands of people around the world participate in Endangered Species Day by celebrating, learning about, and taking action to protect threatened and endangered species. This global day of action and celebration was created and founded by David Robinson and the Endangered Species Coalition in 2006, and has continued ever since.
Along with the 18th annual Endangered Species Day, 2023 also marks the 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a landmark piece of legislation that institutionalized our national commitment to the conservation of fish, plants and wildlife and the places they call home. On Endangered Species Day 2023, wildlife refuges, gardens, schools, libraries, museums, community groups, nonprofits, and individuals will hold special programs or events. People around the world participate in these activities and others.
Endangered Species are any type of organism that is threatened with extinction across all or a significant portion of its range. This status of endangerment is primarily due to habitat loss, poaching, pollution, climate change, invasive species, and overexploitation.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s Red List, also known as IUCN Red List, is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.
Millions of species share the Earth with humans, and they need our help Definition The term “Endangered Species” was formally defined in the 1973 Endangered Species Act of the United States, which outlined legal protections for these species. According to the Act, an endangered species is one that is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” In contrast, a “Threatened Species” is one likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. Globally, the IUCN’s Red List categorizes species into nine groups based on criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation.
Causes of Endangerment Endangerment of species, which pushes them towards extinction, is often the result of a combination of multiple threats and stressors. Here, we elaborate further on the primary causes of endangerment.
Habitat Loss and Degradation This is widely recognized as the leading cause of species endangerment worldwide. Habitats can be lost or altered by a number of human activities including agriculture, urbanization, deforestation, mining, and infrastructure development.
When habitats are destroyed or fragmented, species lose the resources they need to survive such as food, shelter, and mates. This loss can also lead to decreased genetic diversity as populations become isolated and smaller, making them more susceptible to other threats. Overexploitation Overexploitation refers to the unsustainable use of species either for consumption or trade. Examples of overexploitation include overfishing, overhunting, overharvesting for medicinal use, and the pet trade.
This excessive pressure can lead to drastic reductions in species populations and can push species to the brink of extinction. For example, the passenger pigeon, once abundant in North America, was hunted to extinction in the wild by the early 20th century.
Invasive Species When species are introduced to new environments, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they can outcompete native species for resources, change habitats, spread diseases, and even prey on native species. Invasive species can be particularly damaging on islands, where native species have often evolved in the absence of certain predators or competitors.
Pollution Various forms of pollution can have detrimental impacts on species and their habitats. This includes water pollution from industrial waste or agricultural runoff, air pollution from burning fossil fuels, soil pollution from heavy metals, and even light and noise pollution in urban areas. Pollution can harm species directly or can damage the habitats and food sources they rely on. For example, pesticide use has been linked to declines in bee populations worldwide, affecting not only the bees themselves but also the plants they pollinate.
Climate change, driven by human activities, is an increasingly significant threat to species worldwide. As temperatures rise, many species must move towards the poles or to higher elevations to stay within their preferred climate range. However, not all species are able to move quickly enough or may find suitable habitats unavailable.
In addition, climate change can lead to more extreme weather events, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and changes in precipitation patterns, all of which can have impacts on species and their habitats. For instance, warming ocean temperatures are causing coral bleaching events, threatening the survival of coral reefs and the myriad species that rely on them.
While disease is a natural part of ecosystems, changes in the environment can trigger more frequent or severe disease outbreaks. Human activities can also introduce new diseases into an environment or make species more susceptible to existing diseases. For example, the chytrid fungus, likely spread by international trade and climate change, has caused drastic declines in amphibian populations around the world.
ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT: 50 YEARS OF SAVING SPECIES