National Endangered Species Day 2019: Third Friday in May| Significance

National Endangered Species Day is observed on third Friday of May every year to spread awareness about the importance of protecting endangered species, their habitats and to take actions necessary to protect them. What is the history behind this day, when it was first time celebrated? Do you know what are endangered species? Let us see below.
May 17, 2019 11:09 IST
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National Endangered Species Day 2019: Third Friday in May
National Endangered Species Day 2019: Third Friday in May

This day provides an opportunity to learn about the importance of protecting the endangered species and what all actions can be taken every day to protect them. Therefore, Endangered Species Day recognises the national conservation efforts to protect our nation's endangered species and their habitats. Several events and youth contest are held at various wildlife refugees, zoos, parks, community centres, aquariums, botanical gardens, libraries, schools and colleges etc.

“Living wild species are like a library of books still unread. Our heedless destruction of them is akin to burning that library without ever having read its books.” ― John Dingell

What are Endangered Species?
Since life began on Earth, several creatures due to changing of physical and biological conditions of the environment have come and gone or extinct. As we know that it is the law of nature that extinctions will occur naturally and will continue to do so. But scientific evident suggest that the current rate of species extinction is much higher as compared to the background rate of the past. This is what we have to think about or is a matter of concern. Isn’t it!

Therefore, we can say that endangered species are the species that are at the risk of extinction due to sudden rapid decrease in its population or loss of its critical habitat. Species like plants or animals that was threatened with extinction could be called an endangered species.

National Endangered Species Day: History

In 1960s and 1970s concern over the wellbeing of animals with environment and conservation came out. First time the term endangered is used in the mid 1960s and was canonized with laws like the U.S. Endangered Species Act 1972 which laid down some rules for protecting endangered species. It is said that the National Endangered Species Day was enacted in 2006 by the United Senate.

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At that time several efforts were made to save species and due to it around hundreds of species from extinction were saved like the bald eagle. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in the past two decades, the list of endangered species has more than doubled. Further, more than half of the population of Eastern lowland gorillas has been lost since 1990s, leaving few in thousand and elephants in Africa tens of thousands were killed every year.

“Endangered species are our friends.” - Yao Ming

What qualifies a species as Endangered?
Different government and local organisations have their own criteria of deciding for species that it is endangered or not. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) maintains the most comprehensive list of endangered species around the world. The Red List of Threatened Species judges each species on five different standards.

According to IUCN, an endangered species is one that meets any one of the following criteria as given below:
- A 50-70% population decrease over 10 years.
- A total geographic area less than 5,000 square kilometre or local population area less than 500 square kilometres.
- A population size less than 2,500 adults.
- A restricted population of 250 adults or a statistical prediction that it will go extinct within next 20 years.
IUCN's Red list covers a wide range of what qualifies as an endangered species.

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Factors that lead to extinction are:

Common factors that leads to extinction are:

- Human intervention
- Loss of habitat
- Introduction of foreign species into the environment.
- Overhunting
- Pollution
- Disease
- Loss of genetic variation
- Deforestation
- Climate Change etc.

Conservation of any endangered species must begin with stringent efforts to protect its natural habitat by the enforcement of rigid legislation against human encroachment into parks and other game sanctuaries.”- Dian Fossey

National Endangered Species Day: Celebrations
- Attend Endangered Species Day event.
- Update your facebook cover photo.
- Share Wildlife message or story about Endangered Species Day with your friends and family.
- Help children people learn about Biodiversity and Conservation.
- Do the needful to save plants, animals etc.

What is Biodiversity and why it is important to protect?
Biodiversity is generated with two words namely "biological" and "diversity". It refers to all the variety of life that can be found on Earth may be plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms. As well as to the communities that they form and the habitats in which they live.

Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as the variability among living organisms from all sources including inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Note: Biodiversity is not only the sum of all ecosystems, species and genetic material but also it represents the variability within and among them.

So, this is the time to be alert and we should together work towards generating awareness among public about the importance of wild life, endangered species, biodiversity and conservation. Why endangered species are at the verge of extinction? What are the reasons behind it? It is necessary to understand it. No doubt extinction is a natural phenomenon of nature but due to some other reasons extinction is increasing decades in decades. One day will come when we will not be able to see tigers, elephants, eagles etc.

“We all have a responsibility to protect endangered species, both for their sake and for the sake of our own future generations.” - Loretta Lynch


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