Why should endangered species be protected?

Why should endangered species be protected?

An endangered species is defined as one who is at risk of becoming extinct throughout a large portion of their habitat. There are a number of factors that must be taken into account when classifying a species as threatened or endangered. The overall population is always considered, but is not always the most important. They must also take into consideration where the population is located. A species with a large population may be considered endangered if they are located in only one area; while a species with a very small population that is spread over a much larger area might not. This is because there is a serious risk that should anything happen to the habitat of a species unable to relocate and replenish itself, extinction would likely occur. An animal whose species is spread over a large area has a greater chance to recover from such a loss. Other factors that play a role in defining endangered species are their rate of reproduction, average number of offspring and their rate of survival.

The loss of any living species puts undo strain on their ecosystem. In any given ecosystem, animals are both predator and prey, and as such the loss of one species will undoubtedly affect the others. Imagine the ecosystem as a connected chain, with each individual species represented by one of the interlocking rings. You can see that every link depends on two others – in the wild, one would be the species’ predator, who would help weed out the ill and the weak and thus strengthen the herd, while the other would represent the species’ prey. You can imagine the damage that would happen to the ecosystem if one of those links were suddenly removed.

In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in an effort to protect those animals deemed endangered or threatened to become endangered in the near future. The ESA has put into place a number of laws and limitations in hopes of preserving those species. These include, but are not limited to, restrictions on the hunting, transportation, and trading of endangered animals. The ESA also has a number of rehabilitation programs in place, where animals in danger of extinction can be cared for and protected, thus allowing the species to reproduce without the dangers they would face in their natural habitats.
 
As of 2009, there are well over 5000 endangered animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. In most cases, the threat to these animals is a direct result of human interference. The most primary threats to these animals are excessive hunting, industrialization, loss of habitat, increases in pollution and captivity, and climate change.

So you can see, endangered species need to be protected because the loss of one species ultimately affects all of the others in their ecosystem. The risk of extinction in one species puts others in danger as well.

To learn more about endangered species and what you can do to help, visit one of the following websites.
http://www.allaboutwildlife.com/endangered-species/endangered-species-population-numbers/3596
http://www.iucnredlist.org/

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