Animal lovers and conservationists unite, because May 19 is National Endangered Species Day. This is a day for raising awareness of the dwindling populations of certain animals and to work together to stop them from dying out completely.
While environmental conservation was not a priority for most of human history, that began to change in the mid-19th century. One hundred years later, the first legislation was passed in the United States in an effort to conserve endangered species. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was aimed at enforcing both domestic and international conservation by providing a framework for conserving and protecting endangered and threatened species and their habitats.
Today, there are some who are critical of human efforts to make the world more habitable for endangered animals. They argue that natural selection should have the only say in deciding which species live and die—since natural selection is the reason why there are no dinosaurs anymore, as well as why humans have become the creatures they are today. While that is true to a certain extent, human beings have an unprecedented and as-yet unequalled effect on the planet, which can have negative consequences on the lives of other animals. Natural selection can take its effects, but humans should not have ultimate authority over which animals live and die.
Why National Endangered Species Day is Important
A. Protecting other animals keeps the planet healthy
Every animal is a vital link in its own respective food chain. Removing any link from any chain has disastrous effects on other animals, on humans, and on the planet in general. The key to making sure that human history continues is to make sure we live on a healthy planet, and in order to do that, we must allow other animals to live and thrive along with us.
B. Animals provide important research
When it comes to studying disease or biology or natural history, it’s not enough to study fossils and other humans. Studying the animals who share our planet allow us to form a deeper understanding of the way life works. If a species goes extinct, then there is no real way for us to truly understand how they impacted the planet. After all, dodo saliva could have been utilized as a natural anti-depressant, but since they all died out several centuries ago, we’ll never know for certain.
C. Eating other animals keeps humans alive
Putting aside thoughts of scientific research, it’s still a plain fact that humans rely on other animals to survive. While humans have evolved to eat plants and to utilize agriculture, meat still forms an essential part of our diet. And any species that isn’t threatened by extinction can be used as a vital food source by humans.
How to Observe National Endangered Species Day
1. Make a donation
There are thousands of charitable organizations dedicated to conserving endangered species, and they all could use your help. These organizations exist at national and local levels as well, so you can choose how far and wide your money goes.
2. Volunteer at a local nature center
If you can spare the time, find a nature center near you and volunteer your services. Take the opportunity to learn something new about this wonderful planet we live on, and learn how you can make sure it’s in good shape for the future. Most nature centers offer helpful literature, and those who work there are always ready for a chance to talk about their work. If you’re interested, volunteering could turn into a regular hobby!
3. Go on a nature walk
This is an excellent way to get to know the wilderness near you, first-hand. Take some time out of your day and see for yourself what the natural world looks like, right in your backyard. See if you can spot all the creatures that make their homes with you, and try to figure out the best way to help your local ecosystem work.