What Causes a Species to Become Endangered?

Have you ever witnessed a rhino in a zoo? How about polar bears? For many individuals, sea turtles are a major attraction. Did you know that these animals are all considered endangered species?

You may be familiar with giant pandas being endangered. You might even know that bald eagles are on the list. However, there are thousands of other species that are endangered. And it’s not just animals! Many endangered species are actually plants.

So how does a species end up being endangered? It all comes down to the risk of extinction. Extinction occurs when there are no more living members of a species. You’re probably familiar with dinosaurs. They are an example of extinct animals.

When a species is at risk of becoming extinct, experts categorize them as either “threatened” or “endangered.” A species is considered threatened when its population has decreased by 30-50 percent. If a species is endangered, its population has dropped by 50-70 percent. A species is also classified as endangered if there are fewer than 250 individuals remaining.

There are many factors that can cause a species to become endangered. Often, they are negatively impacted by changes in their environment or by predators. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps track of endangered species. As of 2019, the IUCN has studied over 96,500 species. Out of those, around 28,000 are threatened and 7,755 are endangered.

Many countries have implemented laws to protect endangered species. Some laws prohibit hunting, while others restrict land development. Special habitats are also designated for these species. However, experts believe that very few threatened species actually benefit from these laws. Many more species remain at risk of extinction without gaining public attention.

Any individual has the right to request the government to classify a species as endangered. However, the process of getting a species listed can take over two years. Some argue that governments make it too difficult for a species to be added to the endangered list.

In order for a species to be listed as endangered, experts must evaluate its conservation status. This involves considering various factors such as the number of living individuals, the population decline over time, the breeding rate, and any threats to the species. Based on this information, experts can determine whether a species is endangered or not.

Despite the challenges, progress has been made. More than 196 countries worldwide have committed to creating plans to protect endangered species. In the United States, these plans are developed following guidelines from the Endangered Species Act. Overall, wildlife experts view this act as beneficial. As of 2019, 50 species have been removed from the list due to successful recovery efforts.

What can you do to help endangered species? The best thing you can do is educate yourself about the issue. Then, share this information with those around you. You can also contribute to the preservation of habitats. Engage in recycling, water conservation, and reducing your carbon footprint. Don’t disregard endangered species—they need your assistance!

Give It a Try

Fortunately, Wonders of the Day are not endangered! You can continue your learning journey by exploring the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Because plants and animals cannot vote, they must depend on compassionate humans to pass laws and take other positive actions to safeguard endangered species. Interested in how your family can contribute? Take a look at these ways you can assist endangered species.
  • You might not have any rhinos or polar bears in your area, but you might be surprised to learn that many endangered species are native to your state. Explore the list of endangered species that inhabit your home state. Have you ever encountered any of these endangered animals? Discuss with a friend or family member.
  • If you have an artistic side, you might find these coloring pages of endangered animals interesting. You can display them or share them with your friends to raise awareness about endangered or threatened species. Can you utilize your creativity and imagination to write a short story that complements one of your pictures? Perhaps you can use your story to educate others about how a specific animal became endangered!

Reliable Sources

  • https://www.britannica.com/science/endangered-species (accessed 08 Aug 2019)
  • https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-endangered-species-act (accessed 08 Aug 2019)
  • https://www.iucn.org/theme/species/our-work/iucn-red-list-threatened-species (accessed 08 Aug 2019)
  • https://www.iucnredlist.org/resources/summary-statistics (accessed 08 Aug 2019)
  • https://www.iucnredlist.org/ (accessed 08 Aug 2019)
  • https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/biodiversity_action_plan.htm (accessed 08 Aug 2019)
  • https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/reports/delisting-report (accessed 08 Aug 2019)
  • https://www.huffpost.com/entry/12-things-we-should-all-do-to-protect-endangered-species_b_58bd9c87e4b0abcb02ce2067 (accessed 08 Aug 2019)


1. How does a species become endangered?

A species becomes endangered when its population size becomes critically low, putting it at risk of extinction. There are several factors that can contribute to a species becoming endangered. Habitat loss is one of the main reasons. When a species loses its natural habitat due to deforestation, urbanization, or climate change, it loses its food sources and shelter. Another factor is overexploitation. Hunting, fishing, and capturing species for commercial purposes can lead to their decline. Pollution, invasive species, and climate change are also significant threats to many species. These factors, combined with genetic issues and natural disasters, can push a species to the brink of extinction.

2. Can a species recover from being endangered?

Yes, a species can recover from being endangered, but it requires concerted conservation efforts. Governments, organizations, and individuals play a crucial role in implementing measures to protect and restore endangered species. These efforts may include establishing protected areas, implementing breeding programs, and enforcing regulations to prevent hunting and habitat destruction. Additionally, community involvement and education programs are important for raising awareness and promoting sustainable practices. However, the recovery process can be slow and challenging, especially if the underlying causes of endangerment are not adequately addressed.

3. How can habitat loss lead to species endangerment?

Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of species endangerment. When a species loses its natural habitat, it loses access to essential resources such as food, water, and shelter. This can lead to a decline in population size and reproductive success. Habitat loss often occurs due to human activities, such as deforestation for agriculture, urbanization, and infrastructure development. It can fragment habitats, isolating populations and reducing genetic diversity. Eventually, the species may become unable to adapt to changes in its environment, making it more vulnerable to threats such as predation and disease. Without suitable habitat, a species cannot thrive and may become endangered.

4. What role does climate change play in species endangerment?

Climate change is a significant factor contributing to species endangerment. Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events can disrupt ecosystems and alter habitats. Species that are unable to adapt or migrate to more suitable areas may face a decline in population size or even extinction. Climate change can affect various aspects of a species’ survival, including food availability, reproductive success, and interactions with other species. Additionally, climate change can exacerbate other threats, such as habitat loss and the spread of diseases. It is crucial to mitigate climate change and implement strategies to help species adapt to changing conditions to prevent further endangerment.

5. Can human activities help prevent species from becoming endangered?

Yes, human activities can play a crucial role in preventing species from becoming endangered. Conservation efforts such as habitat preservation, restoration, and protection are essential for maintaining biodiversity. Implementing sustainable practices in agriculture, fishing, and forestry can help reduce the impact on ecosystems and limit habitat loss. Strict regulations and enforcement against hunting, poaching, and illegal wildlife trade are also necessary. Additionally, raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity and the need for conservation through education and community engagement can help foster a sense of responsibility towards protecting species and their habitats. By taking these actions, we can actively contribute to preventing species from becoming endangered.

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