Endangered animals are those animals that are in the immediate danger of becoming extinct. Their numbers are low, and they need protection in order to survive. As one set of people spread awareness about endangered animal species, there are those who point out that if extinction is a part of the natural process hen why do we save endangered animals.
This is because the current rate of extinction is much higher than the natural rate seen in the past. The main force driving this higher rate of loss is habitat loss. There are others such as over-exploitation of wildlife for commercial purposes; the introduction of harmful exotic (nonnative) organisms; environmental pollution; and the spread of diseases.
 Why should I be aware of this?
None of these creatures exists in a vacuum. All living things are part of a complex, often delicately balanced network called the biosphere. The earth’s biosphere, in turn, is composed of countless ecosystems, which include plants and animals and their physical environments. No one knows how the extinction of organisms will affect the other members of its ecosystem, but the removal of a single species can set off a chain reaction affecting many others.
 All about endangered animals
An endangered species is any animal or plant species whose very survival is threatened to the point of extinction. Once extinct, a species is no longer found anywhere on Earth and there is no chance of its revival. The extinction of species is not a new phenomenon. Natural extinction of species has been occuring since life started on earth. But it is the rapid extinction which is a cause of concern.
The four steps in the journey of a species.
- Vulnerable species - A species particularly at risk because of low or declining numbers or small range, but not a threatened species.
- Threatened species – a species whose population is not yet low enough to be in immediate danger of extinction, but who certainly faces serious problems. If the problems affecting these species aren’t resolved, it is probable that the species will become endangered. The eastern indigo snake and the red kangaroo are examples of threatened species.
- Endangered species – a specie, plant or animal, that is in immediate danger of becoming extinct. Its numbers are usually low, and it needs protection in order to survive. The Siberian tiger, the southern sea otter, the snow leopard, the green pitcher plant, and thousands of other plants and animals are endangered worldwide.
- Extinct species – an extinct species is one that is no longer living. The passenger pigeon, the dodo, and the Stegosaurus are examples of extinct species. These animals no longer exist on the earth.
 Causes of endangerment
Endangerment is a broad issue, one that involves the habitats and environments where species live and interact with one another. Natural changes tend to occur at a gradual pace, usually causing only a slight impact on individual species. However, when changes occur at a fast pace, there is little or no time for individual species to react and adjust to new circumstances. This can create disastrous results.
 Habitat Destruction
Rapid habitat loss is the primary cause of species becoming endangered. The burgeoning human population has cleared forests to live and farm. While activities such as hunting, over-fishing, cutting trees and clearing forests have had a direct impact on biodiversity of the planet, pollution, global warming, release of greenhouse gases have had a damaging impact on hubs of biodiversity such as the coral reefs. Clearing of rainforests has resulted in loss of microbes in soils that formerly supported tropical forests.
 Introduction of Exotic Species
Native species, comprising plants and animals that inhabit a particular biological landscape for a lengthy period of time, are well adapted to their local environment and are accustomed to the presence of other native species within the same general habitat. When exotic species or non native pests, are introduced into new environments by way of human activities, either intentionally or accidentally, they sometimes prey on the native species. Species have been introduced to environments all over the world, and the most destructive effects have occurred on islands.
Due to the trade in animal parts, many species continue to suffer high rates of exploitation. Unrestricted whaling during the 20th century is an example of overexploitation, and the whaling industry brought many species of whales to extremely low population sizes. Even today, there are demands for items such as rhino horns and tiger bones in several areas of Asia. The demand for ivory had led to indiscriminate poaching and endangered elephant population in several parts of the world.
 Other factors
If a species does not have the natural genetic protection against particular pathogens, an introduced disease can have severe effects on its local population. Domestic animals often transmit the diseases that affect wild populations -- and here again human activities are the root cause of this.
The main danger for animals comes from humans destroying or danaging species' living places, or habitats. Habitats provide species with all the things they need such as food, water, shelter and a place to bring up their young. Each species is suited to its own habitat and usually cannot live anywhere else.
 Endangered animals and environment
These species not only need special measures and extra protection in order to survive, they also serve as umbrella species: helping them helps numerous other species that live in the same habitats.
 Endangered animals and health
TCM is a health care system in which patients are treated with natural plant, animal, and mineral remedies
TCM uses approximately 1,000 plant and 36 animal species, including the tiger, rhinoceros, black bear, musk deer, and sea horse; the tiger, rhinoceros, and sea horse are endangered.
Tiger (Panthera tigris)
In TCM the bones of Panthera tigris have been used in wines, plasters, and manufactured medicines to treat arthritis and other joint ailments. There is little doubt that the trade in tiger bones for medicinal purposes was a major factor behind the tiger conservation crisis of the 1980s and ’90s. Today there are as few as 5,000 to 7,000 tigers in the wild; they are designated as endangered on the 2007 World Conservation Union Red List of Threatened Species. About 5,000 tigers are being raised on farms in China as well.
 What can I do?
- Conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend
- Adopt an Animal -- Make a symbolic animal adoption to help save some of the world's most endangered animals from extinction and support WWF's conservation efforts.
- Here are some ways we can help all wildlife:
- Support zoos, reserves, and organizations that help animals. Volunteer your money, time and ideas.
- Avoid buying any products made from endangered animals.
- Learn all about endangered animals and share this information with everyone.
- Put out food and water for birds, especially in winter. If you start this, you should carry it out all winter.
- Find out about your local conservation groups that work to protect animals. Ask how you can help them.
- Don't pollute.
In 1993, China banned the domestic trade of tiger bones, and TCM removed tiger bone from its official pharmacopoeia. Many TCM practitioners now refuse to use medicines that contain tiger parts, preferring alternative remedies instead. One of the most promising alternatives, according to presenters at The First International Symposium on Endangered Species Used in Traditional East Asian Medicine in Hong Kong in 1997, is the bone of a wild mole rat, Mysospalax baileyi or sailing; other possibilities discussed were the bones of dogs, cows, goats, and other domestic animals. As Elizabeth Call, author of Mending the Web of Life: Chinese Medicine and Species Conservation, stated at another international meeting on traditional medicine in 2006, “the TCM community does not want to be blamed for the extinction of tigers…we support the development of TCM without the use of tiger bone and parts of other highly endangered species of wildlife.”
Surveys in 2006 by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, showed that less than 3 percent of 663 medicine shops and dealers in 26 cities across China claimed to stock tiger bone. Outside China, however, the situation may not be so promising. Back in 1996–97, 43 percent of medicine shops surveyed by TRAFFIC in Chinese communities in North America were still offering tiger bone products for sale; this figure jumped to 50 percent when medicines claiming to contain rhinoceros or leopard products were included.
In June 2007, under pressure from tiger farm owners, China announced a plan to lift its trade ban on parts from farmed tigers. This plan is being opposed by India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Indonesia as well as by tiger conservation groups around the world. If China legalizes trade in parts from farmed tigers, experts agree, the poaching of wild tigers will increase.
Decocted rhinoceros horn is used in TCM to treat fever, convulsions, and delirium. Its popularity has been a major factor in the reduction of the rhinoceros population in Africa and Asia. According to the World Wildlife Fund, only about 3,100 black rhinos in Africa and 2,800 of all three Asian species (Sumatran, Javan, and Indian) in Asia still survive. Black, Sumatran, and Javan rhinos are designated as critically endangered on the 2007 World Conservation Union Red List of Threatened Species.
- Africa has the greatest herds of four-legged animals in the world. Many animals are being killed because they damage crops or are left without a home because African people need more farmland.
- As some endangered animals, such as leopards and wolves eat farm animals, the farmers kill them.
- Animals bred in zoos are not used to surviving in the wild. they have to learn to find food, avoid enemies, and compete with other animals. They will not survive long if the conditions that made them endangered are still out there.
- Protected areas cover less than one twenty-fifth of the world's land surface. *The largest protected area is in Greenland.
- There are more than 1,000 animal species endangered worldwide.
- There are more than 3,500 protected areas in existence worldwide. These areas include parks, wildlife refuges and other reserves. They cover a total of nearly 2 million square miles (5 million square km), or 3% of our total land area.
- Aquatic species, which are often overlooked, are facing serious trouble. One third of the United States’ fish species, two-thirds of its crayfish species, and almost three-quarters of its mussel species are in trouble.
- Lemurs are an endangered species of primates found only on the African island of Madagascar and in zoos.
- Passenger pigeons once numbered in the billions but now exist only in museums.
 See Also
- Why Save Endangered Species?
- Protecting the future of nature
- Encyclopedia Britannica; Traditional Chinese Medicine and Endangered Animals
- Ways to save endangered animals