card
091

endangered

OLogy Series
biology
card
091

endangered

OLogy Series
biology

Thousands of plants and animal species may be in danger of becoming extinct and disappearing forever. Some endangered species include giant pandas, tigers, and the silver sword plant, which is found only on the Hawaiian islands. Many species are threatened because of human actions. But by creating laws to preserve natural habitats, we may be able to save some of them.

Panda-monium in China's Forests
Giant pandas have been on the U.S. Endangered Species List since 1973. Scientists have tried to breed these Asian mammals in zoos, but most efforts have failed. Today there are only about 1,000 pandas left. Some live in zoos, but most live in the bamboo forests of China. Pandas eat only bamboo shoots, stems, and leaves. Since 1998, a ban on commercial logging has stopped major destruction of the bamboo forests. However, the situation still looks bleak. Why? Most of the pandas' bamboo forests are being cut down by poor farmers who use bamboo for firewood and timber. One farmer explained, "I can't worry about the environment. I have to worry about my family. Are pandas more important than people?" Saving endangered species can be tough, but progress is being made.

Saving Species
In 1973, the U.S. Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. This act requires the government to keep a list of species of plants and animals that are either threatened or endangered. Once a plant or animal is added to this list, the government must create a recovery plan to help its survival. In addition, anyone caught stealing, injuring, or killing endangered species can be fined or sent to jail. Because of this act, species such as the bald eagle and the American alligator have fought off extinction for now. But for some recently extinct species, such as the Carolina parakeet (see photo) and the silver trout, these efforts came too late to help.

People should care about endangered plants and animals because:

they have just as much right to exist as we do

these endangered species care about us, so it's only fair

one day these species may be able to talk with space aliens

Are you right?

Correct!

Every animal plays an important role in the balance of life on Earth, even if that role isn't always obvious to us.

There is nothing that you can do to help endangered plants and animals.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Everyone can help endangered species. You can treat the environment with respect and write letters to people in Congress to protect animal habitats.

endangered (en-DAYN-jurd)
Description: When there are only a few of an animal or plant species left, it is considered endangered.
Significance: With human intervention, there is a chance that endangered species can be saved before it's too late.
Some animals that are endangered today: manatee, Florida panther, California condor, African elephant, and black rhinoceros

Image credits: montage of Silver sword, AMNH and Bald Eagle, courtesy of AMNH, Department of Library Services 1118.