What does it mean to be an endangered species?
Endangered - the classification provided to an animal or plant in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
Species - a group of individuals related by descent, and able to breed among themselves but not with other organisms.
Thousands of species of life are creeping further down the road towards extinction every day and, for the most part, the predominant cause of their decline is human beings. The more we expand, re-purpose, improve, and develop the earth's resources to suit our needs, the more of life's rich tapestry we destroy. Fortunately, we have now begun to realise that there are many consequences to our actions, which may take years - even decades - to show themselves. The tendency so far has been to wait until they do, before we act upon them, and that tendency must change.
It is no good waiting until there is only one rhinoceros or tiger left in the world before we decide that something must be done. We need to look now, find out which species are in danger and find out what we can do to get them out of that danger.
The Species Survival Commission of the World Conservation Union publish a list known as 'The Red List of Threatened Animals'. While it carries no legal force, the international compilation is seen by many as a warning of global decline in wildlife biodiversity. The 1996 Red List contains 5,205 species assessments, and according to the report, show that 24 of the 26 orders of mammals include species facing extinction - a grand total of 1,096 species.
But conservation must come from the heart. We cannot individually help every animal on the brink of extinction. We must look to those species which, for whatever reason, mean something to us individually. That way, we are constantly reminded of why we want to help, and what life would be like if all that remained of that animal was a picture in an encyclopedia.
Now is the time to take action. See what you could do here.