Editor’s note: Of the 41,415 species on the International Union for Concerned Scientists’ Red List — the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species — 16,306 of them are classified as endangered species threatened with extinction. What’s wiping them out? Wildlife trafficking, habitat loss, a changing climate — primarily, humans.
But getting listed as an endangered species isn’t a lost cause. Species recovery is possible — and a critical piece of achieving it is conservation work, including protecting areas for habitat. In honor of Endangered Species Day, here are four stories that look at the role of conservation — and of Conservation International — in saving species across the globe.
- Scroll down to the end for a photo gallery featuring endangered species.
Research that analyzed more than 2.5 million camera-trap images taken in 15 protected areas across Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia found that among the species monitored, 17% of the animal populations increased in number. This indicates protected areas are doing their job.
Some of the dense hardwood species that are most effective in removing carbon from the atmosphere can only be dispersed by large frugivores. Unfortunately, these species are often heavily hunted. Remove these species and you reduce the potential of these forests to help mitigate climate change.
The disappearance of species isn’t just a concern for the plants and animals in danger. It’s also a worrying symptom of the degradation of ecosystems that we rely on for everything from absorbing greenhouse gases to filtering drinking water.
Wildlife trafficking threatens species, economies and global security — and it is a lucrative enterprise for organized crime networks. While international efforts to curb trafficking are beginning to see progress, cracking down will require more political will, community outreach and boots on the ground.
Endangered Species Photo Gallery
Sophie Bertazzo is a staff writer at CI.