wikiHow to Help Endangered Animals

Three Methods:Making Changes Close to HomeTackling Pollution and Climate ChangeWorking Together

Scientists count five known animal extinction waves in Earth's history, including the extinction of the dinosaurs, and many now believe we have entered a sixth wave.[1] This time, however, humans are the primary cause, through habitat reduction and destruction, over-hunting, pollution, food chain disruptions, and introduction of non-native species, to name a few factors. Beyond the loss of animal species forever, extinction threatens potential scientific and medical advances to be gleaned from animal life, and even possibly our food supply (through disruption of the pollination chain). It may seem like a problem that is too big for any one person to make a difference, but there are many changes we can all make to help prevent endangered species from becoming extinct species.

Method 1
Making Changes Close to Home

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    Look for local species that need help. Endangered animals can seem like a far-away problem, but there are likely threatened species, from birds to bears to bugs, in your own neighborhood.
    • Invasive plants that overrun native vegetation and invasive animals without existing predators can combine to devastate native animal populations. Note the difference between invasive and non-native species; invasive refers specifically to species that thrive and overtake native species. Many non-native plants and animals are just fine. In fact most of our animal and plant foods are not native.
    • When planting, choose plants and flowers that are native to the area. Native vegetation is more likely to attract native birds, butterflies and other insects, and other animals that may be endangered.
    • Remove invasive weeds and non-native plantings in favor of local varieties.
    • Build bird feeders suited to native species.
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    Grow naturally. Eliminate the use of chemical pesticides in your yard or garden in favor of natural deterrents. Give your local threatened or endangered species a fighting chance to thrive without dealing with unnecessary toxins. Water runoff can spread pesticide chemicals far from your home as well, so you will be benefiting a larger habitat than you might think.
    • "Integrated pest management" is an option that relies on "natural" ways to combat pests and unwanted plants. If, for example, you have an aphid problem, try attracting lady bugs that feed on aphids. The feeling among people who practice permaculture (and others as well)is that if you have an abundance of snails or slugs in your garden, the problem isn't the abundance of snails and slugs, it's the lack of ducks who would eat the snails and slugs and keep them in check.
    • Also, start composting to create natural, ultra-locally sourced fertilizer instead of relying on chemical-laced, long-distance hauled store brands.
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    Consider your space needs. Many people dream of having the huge backyard with the pristine green lawn, but the growing encroachment of humans into wildlife habitats is a major cause of species endangerment.
    • Consider turning your yard into an edible landscape. In drought-stricken areas like California, focusing on using native and/or drought adapted plants can help animal species survive.
    • When it is time to move to a new home, think carefully about the amount of space you really need. Also consider the benefits of a smaller space (less mowing, for one!) as well as living in an area of existing development rather than a newly-carved suburban enclave.
    • If moving is not on your to-do list, consider whether it is possible for you to reduce your footprint on your own property. Would you be able to permit part of your land to return to a more natural state -- for instance, by replacing lawn space with native plantings that you allow to grow freely?

Method 2
Tackling Pollution and Climate Change

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    Shop for locally-grown organic produce. Support farmers who avoid chemical pesticides and can deliver produce to market without significant fuel consumption (and pollution). Every bit of pollution prevention helps endangered species, and you will help make organic farming the socially and financially sensible choice for growers.
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    Reduce, reuse, and recycle. If your municipality has a recycling program, make full use of it. If there isn't a program, work to create one. Keep as much of your waste out of landfills as possible.
    • Landfills take up valuable space and some waste (like plastic bags and bottles) inevitably seems to make its way into wild habitats or the huge swirls of trash found out at sea, with negative consequences to animal life.
    • Buy products and food without packaging whenever possible. Take your own bags to the store. This will reduce the amount of garbage and waste you produce, not to mention the pollution resulting from the creation and distribution of this packaging. Whales and tigers will thank you.
    • Start an initiative to share specialty tools and seldom-used household items among neighbors. There are good examples of people working with their local libraries to have a tool lending section.
    • Donate used toys, books, games, clothing, etc., to hospitals, shelters, daycares, or charities.
    • Before throwing something out, consider creative ways of reusing it. A toilet bowl flower pot may not be your style, but that old, beat-up kitchen table might make a nice little workbench.
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    Consider alternatives to driving. Walk or ride a bicycle to work or the market. It's good for your body and produces zero emissions that negatively impact earth's delicate climate balance. Take public transportation when available.
    • When you do use the car, drive more slowly. Animal-vehicle collisions are on the rise as human and animal habitats increasingly overlap, and this is a particular threat to certain endangered species. [2]
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    Save energy by turning off lights and electrical appliances when not in use. Unplug televisions, computers, and other items that still draw electricity even when turned off. This will stop the "vampire" energy drain of these devices.
    • You will cut pollution that damages the habitats of endangered species while also saving money. Not a bad deal. Make it a habit in your own life and share it with others. Tell them you can save them a buck and help the polar bears.
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    Don't waste water. Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth and use water-saving devices on your toilet, taps and shower head. Fix leaky pipes and faucets promptly. Even a small drip can waste large amounts of water over time.
    • Use drip irrigation or other water saving devices in the garden. If legal in your area, consider installing a "grey water" system that uses water from showers and sinks in the garden. If you are hardcore, install a composting toilet.
    • Growing human demand for water leads to changes in freshwater ecosystems, beyond just reducing water levels. For instance, the building of dams to make reservoirs can prevent salmon from reaching their spawning grounds.

Method 3
Working Together

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    Support national parks, nature reserves, and wilderness areas that protect endangered animal habitats. Visit them, spend money there, or volunteer at one.
    • Teach kids about protecting endangered species. Many parks have special programs and tours for children.
    • When you travel, consider ecotourism in areas struggling to protect large numbers of endangered species. For instance, there are plenty of locals in Madagascar, an island nation east of mainland Africa with a unique and fragile ecosystem, who would like to preserve their endangered species; give them a financial incentive to do so.[3]
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    Leave nature as you find it. When you visit a national park or simply take a walk in the woods, follow the rules and do simple things to keep the area pristine: pick up your trash; follow fire regulations; leave flowers, eggs, and even rocks and logs where you find them. Take only pictures and leave only footprints.
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    Join a wildlife preservation group. There are numerous national and international organizations that work to protect endangered species, and you may also find local organizations in your area. They might be doing things as simple as weed removal and native planting in the local nature preserve. Join them, or start a group yourself.
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    Encourage farmers and large landowners to establish wildlife habitats and leave groves of old trees standing. If you know someone in this situation, inform them of the benefits of doing so. If not, join an organization that supports farmers and others in making this choice.
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    Join your voice with others and be heard. They say the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" for a reason. If you believe endangered species deserve protection for their benefit and ours, let people know. Increased awareness is the first step toward making positive change.
    • Contact your elected representatives. Ask them to support not only legislation that protects endangered species here at home or supports the effort abroad, but also measures to reduce pollution and tackle climate change.
    • Speak out in your community. Help make fliers. Talk at a school, library, or community center. In a friendly but resolute manner, assist people in seeing the bigger picture, how the little things we do (or don't do) impact the whole system, including species endangerment. Tell them how the loss of species creates a ripple effect that will in some way impact them as well, and not just in what animals they can see at the zoo.

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Categories: Animal Welfare Activism | Environmental Awareness