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.
From the American Museum of Natural History in New York, comes this excellent self-guided tour of a 1997 exhibit. 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.
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.
In addition to an excellent introduction to the Endangered Species Act (which answers questions such as "How does a species get listed?" and "How are listed species protected?") this section of Kids' Planet links to fact sheets on more than fifty endangered species. Many of the fact sheets include video and photo galleries, as well as the usual stats. Many of the fact sheets are hosted on the Defenders of Wildlife site (the parent organization of Kids' Planet), so don't let this confuse you.
The centerpiece of this FWS kids site is their "Endangered Means There is Still Time" slide show. It include worksheets, a quiz, and a large list of online resources (look in the Teacher's section.) Other worthwhile clicks include The Secret Lives of Wild Animals (from the National Science Foundation), How Can Kids Help (endangered and threatened species) and the Junior Duck Stamp introduction. "The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program is a dynamic arts curriculum designed to teach wetlands and waterfowl conservation."
"WWF safeguards hundreds of species around the world, but we focus special attention on our flagship species: giant pandas, tigers, endangered whales and dolphins, rhinos, elephants, marine turtles and great apes. These species not only need special measures and extra protection in order to survive, they also serve as umbrella species: helping them helps numerous other species that live in the same habitats." Explore ecosystems and specific endangered species at this extensive site.