Our planet is constantly changing; this means that species evolve, and some of them disappear.
But these processes take hundreds, thousands or even millions of years.
Currently, there are species that are rapidly disappearing, and this is directly connected to human overexploitation of our planet’s natural resources.
Scientists call this phenomenon as “the sixth wave of extinction”.
The loss rate of species we are witnessing today is between 100 and a thousand times higher than the expected natural extinction.
Unlike historical mass extinction processes, which are of geological origin, this extinction is caused by a single species: humans.
2. What are the causes of the rapid disappearance of species?
The main threats to species are:
• Loss of habitats
• Conflicts between humans and animals
• Unsustainable trade
• Climate change
• Illegal fishing
• Introduced species
Some species have suffered the impact of one of these factors, but others have been hit by a combination of them.
3. Which are the most endangered species?
We get this question very often, and our answer is: the one that has extinguished while you were reading this text.
Conservation of species is not only about saving individuals but about preserving the wide context that surrounds them as well.
For example, when we seek to save sea turtles we need to:
• Ensure the beaches where they lay their eggs
• Protect the oceans where they feed
• Ensure that the lifestyle of some populations do not depend on them.
WWF as a whole focuses its work on species and on the wide context surrounding their habitats; this implies working with nearby populations in order to reduce threats.
4. Is there any good news about species?
Yes, there is. WWF’s field experience proves that species can be repopulated just as long as they are protected.
Some of our best examples are:
• Pandas in China
• Rhinos in Africa
We can also include in the list the Siberian tiger in Russia's Far East, the bald eagle in North America and many other species.
Some populations of whales such as the blue, almost extinct due to indiscriminate hunting in the late 20s, are recovering slowly after the ban in 1986.
5. What can we do to save endangered species?
Examples show that beyond working together, we can find new ways to a sustainable lifestyle.
This is how WWF works and believes that all efforts play an important role in recovering and protecting species and their habitats.