Plants and animals are a crucial part of our world for a wide range of reasons, whether it be agricultural, ecological, commercial or for aesthetic reasons. Animals, in particular, have always been a favorite of humans; each year, millions of people flock to zoos and habitats to observe beautiful animals.
Sadly, many species are becoming endangered. Endangered species are those living things, including plants and animals, which are in danger of becoming extinct. Animals and plants that become extinct will no longer be seen on the planet again. When many people think of species that have become extinct, they think of prehistoric animals like dinosaurs or wooly mammoths. However, it is estimated that about 27,000 species become extinct each year, or roughly 3 every hour.
Why do species become endangered?
There are a number of reasons a species will become endangered. Some of these reasons include the following:
* Loss of habitats. The human population has exploded with growth in just as a few decades. In order to accommodate more people, land must be developed to make room for people and their businesses, roads and necessities. However, this means taking away the natural habitats of a number of species. As a result, their living space, which once allowed them all to roam freely with plenty of food for all, is greatly reduced. The smaller portions of land and water reduce the amount of food they have, causing them fight for food. As a result of their loss of habitat, they never adapt, starve to death or are killed by predators.
* Pollution. Animals and plants need a clean environment in order to survive and growing amounts of pollution in the air, water and land can lead to the extinction of plants and animals. For example, animals may begin to eat the garbage that people litter, causing them to be sick. Or, oil spills and chemicals in the water kill species of fish and other marine life. Run-off from pesticides also gets into the water, causing species to become ill and die. Often, this has a chain reaction. For example, polluted water could cause fish to become ill or carry around dangerous chemicals inside of them. Animals that prey on these contaminated fish, such as birds or sea mammals, become ill as well.
* Hunting and trading. Species can also become endangered because of hunting and trading, both legal and illegal. Legal hunting is often done for sheer sport, but the results can lead to a species become endangered and even extinct. The American Bison is one such animal. Just several hundred years ago, over 60 million American Bison roamed the plains and Western States. Hunting has caused them to be put on the endangered species list. Poaching is killing animals illegally. It is illegal to hunt a large number of species, including all on the endangered species list. However, many thousands of animals are still poached each year for their fur, oil or body parts. Trading can also have a devastating effect on many species, including plants and exotic birds that never adapt to their new habitats and die off.
The Earth is home to many beautiful species, each with their own purpose and beauty. However, endangered species are quickly on their way to becoming extinct for a wide number of reasons. Knowing why species become endangered can help us to protect these species from eventual extinction.