Endangered Species: Why Should I Care?

Hi everybody, I hope your summer was great! Mine was. I got to spend an entire week in Maine at a Veterinarian Summer Camp… it was amazing.

Anyway, now that I am settled back in school and kind of adjusted to the daily schedule, I managed to find some time to write a little article about something that is dear to my brother and me.

Today I want to talk a little about endangered species.

Rare Black bellied Pangolin

This is Pangy, a threatened black-bellied pangolin.
Photo provided by Alexis Kriel

Let me start off by saying that I believe kids have the power to change the world no matter how big or small the problem is. I see it every day. As kids learn more and more about what is happening around them, they are starting to get involved in becoming the solution.

Let’s take the issue of species endangerment for an example. There are a lot more kids involved with trying to help now than there were even 10 years ago. But unfortunately, there are still plenty of older kids and adults out there who we hear say, “why should I care?” Are you one of them?

animals-asia

Rescued sun bears live at Animals Asia Rescue Center in Vietnam. Photo by OneMoreGeneration.org

Let me ask you this: When was the last time you thought about how many animals are on the “threatened” list? Well, as of today (I just looked it up) there are almost 24,000 living things on the endangered list—and that number keeps growing.

These critically endangered animals are among the most likely to be extinct in our lifetimes. Consult the Guardian's list of the 100 most endangered species, as determined by the IUCN, for a more complete rundown. Photographs by National Geographic: Steve Raymer (black rhino); Joel Sartore (Socorro isopod); Joel Sartore (giant pangasius); Joel Sartore (Rabb's fringe-limbed tree frog); Michael Nichols (mountain gorilla); Stuart Thornton (California condor); George F. Mobley (Bactrian camel); Enric Sala (staghorn coral); and Brian J. Skerry (leatherback sea turtle)

These critically endangered animals are among the most likely to be extinct in our lifetimes. 
Photographs by National Geographic: Steve Raymer (black rhino); Joel Sartore (Socorro isopod); Joel Sartore (giant pangasius); Joel Sartore (Rabb’s fringe-limbed tree frog); Michael Nichols (mountain gorilla); Stuart Thornton (California condor); George F. Mobley (Bactrian camel); Enric Sala (staghorn coral); and Brian J. Skerry (leatherback sea turtle)

Why should you care? Well, let me put it this way … Think of your pet: What if that piece of trash on the ground ended up in your pet’s food bowl—would you let them eat it? What if someone came and took away your yard and your pets no longer had a place to play or bring up their own family? What if someone deemed that there were too many dogs or cats in your neighborhood and to solve the problem, they were making it legal for anyone to shoot them to “cull the herd” so to speak? Would you sit silently by and allow that to happen? No, 99.9% of us pet-lovers would never allow that to happen. But guess what, that is exactly what is happening every single day to thousands of species all over the planet.

You see, one of the main causes for species around the world being pushed to the brink of extinction is habitat loss. Species all over the world are losing the space and environmental conditions they need to survive and most of us are doing nothing about it.

If this were happening to our pets, we would be all up in arms and trying to find a solution.

St. Bernard dog with his trainer, an Augustinian monk, atop the Great Saint Bernard Pass in Switzerland. Photo by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic

A St. Bernard gazes at his trainer, an Augustinian monk, atop the Great Saint Bernard Pass in Switzerland. Photo by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic

We need to treat every species—yes, even the not-so-cute-ones ;-)—as if it were our very own pet. We need to care for them, ensure they are fed properly and that they have the space they need to live a comfortable life. That is no different than what we expect for our pets—or for ourselves for that matter.

Anyway, I trust you get where I am coming from. We all need to educate ourselves more about what we are doing to species all over the world and understand that we have to be the voice for the voiceless. I know I don’t have the solutions yet, but I also know it is my responsibility to find them, and with your help, we will figure this out together.

Thanks for reading and please stay tuned next month where I will be introducing you to a global campaign my brother and I are working on called the OneLessStraw Pledge Campaign.”

Olivia Ries is our National Geographic Society Youth Empowerment writer. Together with her brother Carter, she hopes to inspire others to realize that “Anybody can make a difference… if they can, you can too.” Make sure to check out their TEDxYouth presentation along with their website at OneMoreGeneration.org and also ‘LIKE’ their FaceBook page as well 😉

One response to “Endangered Species: Why Should I Care?

  1. Pingback: 11 Things We Learned This Week | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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