More than 8.7 known species of animals live on the earth, and scientists estimate that there might be many more species yet to be discovered. These animals live together to make up a delicate ecosystem.
When one animal is disrupted, the effects impact other animals. And guess what. We’re animals too. Eventually, humans are impacted, as well.
- Here’s an example of how animals live together and benefit one another, and what can happen when one member of the ecosystem is removed. In the western United States, wolves and coyotes preyed on deer and rabbits, culling out old, diseased animals and keeping their numbers at a manageable population. Wolves were hunted to extinction in the 19th century; coyotes’ numbers dwindled too. With no predators, deer and rabbit populations soared. These animals destroyed trees and ate all the grass. Disease and famine affected them.
- There have been several periods of extinction throughout the history of the world, often caused by changes in climates and environments. Currently, we are experiencing one of the biggest periods of extinction since the dinosaurs went extinct. And much of this loss is caused by human activity.
- We can help reverse this trend by working within our own families and communities first. We can use resources wisely, not taking more than we need. We can encourage leaders to set aside public land, to plant trees in deforested areas, and to make laws that protect the environment. We can volunteer or give resources to conservation agencies.
Visit the National Wildlife Federation to learn more about protecting wildlife in the United States.