Since the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973, many species have been saved from extinction, including the bald eagle, the humpback whale, and the American bison. Sometimes, however, despite enormous investments of time and money, efforts to save a species are not successful. Trying to understand all the forces involved in the natural world is never an easy task. Here are some resources to start the learning process. [Editor's Note: An updated version of this topic can be found here: Endangered Species]
In Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, Mowgli, the man-cub, is found abandoned in the jungle. Akela, the great lone wolf, asks, "Who speaks for this cub?" Bagheera, the black panther, drops from the trees, and in a soft purring voice speaks out to save the man-cub. Expanding this metaphor, Bagheera is a Web site where people can learn about endangered species issues, and become "a voice to help save the animals from becoming extinct." Bagheera is a rich resource, and includes case studies and classroom activities.
From the American Museum of Natural History in New York, comes this excellent self-guided tour of an exhibit held last year. Use the left-hand frame to navigate through the site, but be warned that some of the menus are nested, which is a little confusing at first. One of the don't miss articles is "Causes of Endangerment". Another is the allegorical "Legend of the Meeps Island Flying Frog" in which the leading lady tries to save the flying frogs from near extinction. Is she successful? I'll not spoil the fun.
"Endangered species are like fire alarms. They tell us about problems in our home we call Earth. If we listen to their alarm calls, they could help us improve our lives and the health of our planet." This online slide show from the U.S. Geological Survey explains the difference between threatened (likely to become endangered if it is not protected), endangered (in danger of extinction throughout all or most of its range), and extinct (no longer in existence). In addition to the fifty- nine slides, a glossary of terms is available.
My regular readers know I have an affinity for educational Web sites created by students. This site from Hawaii was researched by students at Enchanted Lakes Elementary School in Kailua, Oahu under the direction of their teacher Lena Kanemori. Because more than a third of the animals on the U.S. endangered species list come from Hawaii, Hawaii is called the endangered species capital of the world. Learn why this is so, and what is being done to reverse this sad trend.