This article was updated on May 21st, 2021.
Today is National Endangered Species Day, a day to recognize why wildlife conservation is essential and what can be done to help prevent threatened species from extinction. In 2006, U.S. Congress officially made the third Friday in May a day to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the role that we can play in protecting critically threatened species from deforestation, pollution, overfishing, and many more human-induced challenges.
“In the last 250 years, 571 species have been confirmed extinct,” and “there are between 200 and 2,000 extinctions that occur every year”, explains Aleksander Hrubenja in their article. Also, there are now 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List, and 16,306 are endangered species threatened with extinction. This represents an increase from 16,118 last year and includes both endangered animals and endangered plants.
While the numbers can seem overwhelming, it is essential to realize that many species have been brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to activists and communities that have raised awareness and changed the systems that threaten ecosystems: deforestation, overfishing, poaching, habitat loss, road development, and pollution. Examples include the bald eagle, grey wolf, and the northern elephant seal. Hopefully, with the help of awareness-building and environmental efforts that support the wild flora and fauna that span the country, the three species listed below are at the highest risk for extinction according to Animals Around The Globe (and many more) can begin to be better protected. Learn more about what you can do in your community and state here.
The Javan Rhinoceros
Status: Critically Endangered
Population: Around 60
Scientific Name: Rhinoceros sondaicus
Height: 4.6–5.8 feet
Weight: 1,984 – 5,071 pounds
Length: 10–10.5 feet
Habitats: Tropical forests
Conservation status: Critically Endangered (Population decreasing)
Scientific name: Phocoena sinus
Trophic level: Carnivorous
Mass: 43 kg (Adult)
Length: 1,2 – 1,5 m (Adult)
The Mountain Gorilla
Scientific name: Gorilla beringei beringei
Higher classification: Eastern gorilla
Subspecies: G. b. beringei
This year, raising awareness of endangered species is looking a little different, as we are all required to stay home and stay safe. However, many organizations are taking their resources digital, so it is still possible to have a day filled with education and awareness-raising activities. Check out the Endangered Species Coalition’s “2021 Endangered Species Day”, which invites you to enter your ZIP code to find out what events are happening in your local area. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will celebrate Endangered Species Day by revealing the results of the “Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest,” which is open to K-12 grade students—residing in the U.S.–including those who are homeschooled or belong to a youth/art program. And of course, there are so many conservation groups, zoos, and wildlife organizations holding various events. Visit the National Wildlife Federation website to check on the events held across the country to highlight endangered species stories. Find an event near you.