Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has calculated the percentage of endangered species as 40 percent of all organisms based on the sample of species that have been evaluated through 2006.

Many nations have laws offering protection to conservation reliant species: for example, forbidding hunting, restricting land development or creating preserves.

Only a few of the many species at risk of extinction actually make it to the lists and obtain legal protection like Pandas. Many more species become extinct, or potentially will become extinct, without gaining public notice.


    A habitat is the ecosystem a species needs to live in - a swamp, rainforest, g, loss of farmlands and the creation of farmlands (more likely outside of the U.S., as in the rainforest of South America) threatens many ecosystems large and small. 
      Pollution can take many forms. Water, air and ground pollution are all related. Toxic substances dumped in a wooded area will destroy the soil and the species that live in it (from bacteria, to insects and the birds & animals that eat them) but it will also get into the groundwater below it. that water may lead to the same source of water that comes out of your faucet!! 
        Sometimes there are just too many animals living in an area that compete for the space, water and food that is found there. For example, in NJ, a large population of raccoons (which turned out to have a parasitic disease) threatened the last remaining population of woodrats in NJ.  
          By our definition, diseases occur naturally. We are not talking about diseases that animals get because of pesticides or pollution. It is a part of nature that animals get diseases. But sometimes humans introduce diseases and problems into a species. The most publicized example is DDT. An insecticide that was used all over the U.S., it was found in water & soil and eventually worked its way up the food chain from small water feeders to the fish who ate the plant life in the water and the animals and humans who ate the fish! When DDT was left into the water it eventually broke down and became DDE. These toxic substances (along with others like PCB's) caused eagles and peregrine falcons to produce eggs that had shells so thin that they broke just from the mother sitting on them.
            Predators are species that hunt other species as their way of getting food. For example, a peregrine falcon will kill small rodents (like mice & voles) and even kill other birds to get food. This is natural and expected. There are no predators that cause extinctions in NJ and none that we could find in our research - unless humans had changed the predators or introduced other predator species.

              People were once predators that hunted and killed to get their food. In some parts of the world people still need to do that. But, in most parts of the United States that is no longer true. For us in New Jersey, our food comes from a store. But many people still enjoy hunting or fishing, and when they are successful they will use it to supplement their food.
              Hunting and fishing is strictly regulated in the United States. In New Jersey, the agency in charge of it is the Department of Environmental Protection. Their Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife makes the regulations that protect species from being over hunted. When people disobey those laws, the state's law enforcement officers' job is to arrest them and make sure they are prosecuted by the courts and forced to pay fines or go to jail. Sometimes this killing is due to ignorance about species - as in the case of bats and snakes. The bobolink's story is a good example of unregulated killing, as is the better publicized story of whale hunting.

                Plants and animals are sometimes introduced by people to areas where they never existed before. Sometimes it happens accidentally. Seeds may catch on people's clothing or on their car and then be carried to another area where they begin to grow. Birds may carry seeds in foods they eat. This process is very natural. But what happens if people introduce new animal species into an area? What is some fisherman decide it would be great to have largemouth bass in a lake in their area - so, they get a bunch of them and dump them in the lake, hoping they will grow for next season. That action upsets the balance of nature and changes that pond! The bass might eat the same food as another fish that already lives their - now they will compete for food. The bass might even eat another fish that lives in the pond. If the bass reproduce they could end up threatening other species. Sometimes people might but a pet, such as a snake or reptile, perhaps a bird that does not live in their area. After a while they get tired of caring for it, or it gets too big - for some reason, they decide to "release it into the wild." Again, they will upset the ecosystem that they put it into. That snake could easily threaten the existence of a native snake.
                When the state of New Jersey RE-introduces a species, such as the wild turkey, bald eagle, or bobcat, they do so after careful scientific studies. They also will monitor that species to make sure it does not endanger other animals. The wild turkey is a good example of a species that NJ has successfully re-introduced into the state as a game species and the bald eagle is a good nongame species example.


                CONSERVE HABITATS

                • One of the most important ways to help threatened plants and animals survive is to protect their habitats permanently in national parks, nature reserves or wilderness areas. There they can live without too much interference from humans. It is also important to protect habitats outside reserves such as on farms and along roadsides.
                • You can visit a nearby national park or nature reserve. Some national parks have special guided tours and walks for kids. Talk to the rangers to find out whether there are any threatened species and how they are being protected. You and your friends might be able to help the rangers in their conservation work.
                • When you visit a national park, make sure you obey the wildlife code: follow fire regulations; leave your pets at home; leave flowers, birds’ eggs, logs and bush rocks where you find them; put your rubbish in a bin or, better still, take it home.
                • If you have friends who live on farms, encourage them to keep patches of bush as wildlife habitats and to leave old trees standing, especially those with hollows suitable for nesting animals.
                • Some areas have groups which look after local lands and nature reserves. They do this by removing weeds and planting local native species in their place. You could join one of these groups, or even start a new one with your parents and friends. Ask your local parks authority or council for information.
                • By removing rubbish and weeds and replanting with natives you will allow the native bush to gradually regenerate. Thisnwill also encourage native animals to return
                • Build a birdfeeder and establish a birdbath for the neighborhood birds.
                • Plant a tree and build a birdhouse in your backyard.
                • Start composting in your backyard garden or on your balcony. It eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers which are harmful to animals and humans, and it benefits your plants!
                • Ask your parents not to use harmful chemicals in your garden or home.

                RECYCLE, REDUCE, REUSE
                • Encourage your family to take public transportation. Walk or ride bicycles rather than using the car.
                • Save energy by turning off lights, radios and the TV when you are not using them.
                • Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth and use water-saving devices on your toilet, taps and showerhead.
                • Ask your parents to buy products and food without packaging whenever possible. Take your own bag to the store. It will reduce the amount of garbage and waste your family produces.
                • Recycle your toys, books and games by donating them to a hospital, daycare, nursery school or children's charity.
                • Encourage your family to shop for organic fruits and vegetables.
                •  If you can, plant native plants instead of non-native or introduced ones in your garden. You don’t want seeds from introduced plants escaping into the bush. Native grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees are more likely to attract native birds, butterflies and other insects, and maybe even some threatened species. 
                 Control Introduced Plants And Animals
                • Non-native plants and animals are ones that come from outside your local area.
                • Some parks and reserves, beaches, bush-land and rivers are now infested with invasive plants, and native species often cannot compete with these plants. 
                • Many environmental weeds come from people’s gardens. 
                • Sometimes, the seeds are taken into the bush by the wind or by birds.
                JOIN AN ORGANISATION
                • There are many community groups working on conservation activities. Join an organization in your area and start helping today!

                MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
                • State and territory government conservation agencies are responsible for the management of national parks and the protection of wildlife. They are sometimes supported by public foundations.
                • Tell your family, friends and work mates about threatened species and how they can help them.
                • Start a group dedicated to protecting a threatened plant or animal in your area or perhaps to help care for a national park.
                • Write articles or letters about threatened species to newspapers.
                • Ring up talk-back radio programs to air your concerns, or arrange to talk on your community radio station.