Today, there are a number of plant and animal species that have been pushed onto the endangered species list. Biodiversity is under enormous threat, and the extinction of many species is happening at an alarming rate. The problem seems insurmountable and many people feel overwhelmed. You may feel that there is nothing you can do to help the situation, and so you do nothing.
There are a number of ways that every person can help to save endangered species. If everyone plays his or her part, the impact will be felt. Small actions practiced every day by everybody add up. Empower and educate yourself to become part of the solution.
The following seven things can be implemented immediately:
1)Learn about the natural environment and endangered species
The first action one can take is to learn about the natural environment. By learning about the wonder of nature and its delicate ecosystems, you can begin to understand the value of the system and develop a personal interest in protecting it.
Many people feel removed from nature. Most have become urban or city dwellers, with little connection to the natural environment. Teach your children about nature. If you live in a city, spend time in open spaces. Look for volunteer opportunities with organisations that are committed to defending endangered species.
2) Make your home wildlife friendly
There are many ways you can make your home wildlife friendly; ways that will encourage wildlife in the area, and not pose a threat to the animals. Make sure that your bins can be locked or are secured out of reach of wildlife. If your bin is easily accessible you will create a situation where wildlife, domestic pets and people come into conflict.
Feed your pets indoors, and lock them in the house at night. This will keep both your pets and wildlife safe. Many a domestic cat has been lost to a caracal at night, or a dog has lost an eye due to a confrontation with a porcupine.
Place decals on your windows so that birds are aware there is glass. This will prevent many accidents and deaths.
3) Plant an indigenous garden
There are many advantages to an indigenous garden. Firstly indigenous plants use less water than exotic plants. This is good for the surrounding plant and wildlife. Indigenous plants attract local birds and insects to your garden. Remove invasive species from your garden and surroundings. Invasive species threaten local species and can lead to their extinction.
4) Recycle and only buy from sustainable sources
Recycling has the potential to reduce the production and consumption of natural resources. If everyone conscientiously recycles and only uses sustainable sources, this would greatly reduce the pressure on eco-systems. You may think that your small contribution to recycling makes little difference. It can and it will but it requires that everyone play their part.
5) Slow down when driving
When taking a road trip, take note of how many dead animals you come across, victims of speeding cars. Often these animals are protected species or are endangered: tortoises, frogs, honey badgers, and riverine rabbits. Significant numbers of animals are killed on South African roads. More careful driving can reduce these numbers. Again, if every person took more responsibility to drive slower and keep a careful watch for wildlife, it would make a difference.
6) Never purchase goods made from endangered species
Before buying souvenirs educate yourself on what you are buying. You could be buying products made from animals that are protected or endangered. This includes artefacts made from things like ivory, tortoiseshell and coral. Products you buy may be made from the fur of endangered animals such as tigers or otters. Medicinal products can contain animal parts such as rhino horn.
It is also not uncommon to be offered animals for sale, such as monkeys, tortoises, snakes or lizards. A number of plants are also endangered or protected, such as cycads. Wildflowers are not to be picked. A good rule of thumb to use when it comes to nature is to only leave footprints, and only take pictures.
7) Protect Wildlife Habitats
Support wildlife habitats in your area. Pay attention to proposals for development in your neighbourhood. Be a responsible and active citizen and lend your support to organisations that are protecting open spaces and natural habitats. Once these areas are gone, they cannot be retrieved. The cumulative consequences for the world could also be disastrous.
There are things that every individual can do to make a difference to endangered species. Lead by example in your community. The actions of a few individuals have the potential to start a snowball effect. Never believe that what you do does not matter.