Top 5 questions about species

1. Why should I be concerned about the extinction of species? Is it not all part of a natural process?

Our planet is in a state of constant change in which species evolve; some disappear.

But this process is something that happens over hundreds of thousands and even millions of years.

The current speed at which species are disappearing, however, is directly connected to the way we are over-exploiting our planet. This is leading to what scientists call: the 6th wave of extinction.

The rapid loss of species that we are witnessing today is estimated by some experts to be between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the expected natural extinction rate!

And this is even a conservative estimate. Some studies estimate current extinction rates as 1,000–11,000 times higher than what would happen naturally.

Unlike mass extinction events, which involve major geological events, the current extinction phenomenon is caused by a single species: humans.

2. But why and how are we causing species to decline so fast?

The greatest threats to species and the places where they live are: Some species are impacted by only one of these factors, while others are hit by a combination of them.

3. What species are most endangered?

We get asked this a lot. And we sometimes answer: the one that just went extinct while you were reading this text.

And we say this because species conservation is not just about saving a single individual species. It is about thinking about the broader context.

For example, when we seek your help to save marine turtles, we need to:
  • secure the beaches where they lay eggs
  • protect the oceans where they feed
  • guarantee the livelihood of people who depend on them
All of WWF's work on species focus on the "bigger picture" - their habitat, local communities, populations and reducing threats.

Everything in nature is connected and so are the solutions to environmental problems.

4. Is there any good news about species?

In fact, yes! WWF's field experience has proven that many species can rebound if provided adequate protection and habitat.

Some major success examples are: We can also list tigers in the Russian Far East, the bald eagle in North America and many others.

Some whale populations, such as the blue whale, nearly hunted to extinction at the turn of the 20th century, are slowly rebounding after the global hunting ban in 1986.

5. How can I help save species?

The examples above demonstrate how we can work together to find alternative and more sustainable ways of living.

This is how WWF works and we believe that a global effort where everyone has a role to play is the best approach on how we can protect and recover species and their habitats.

There is a lot  you can do even without leaving your home.

Species facts and figures*

  • The total number of species on the planet is unknown; estimates vary between 10-100 million, with 15 million species being the most widely accepted figure
  • Most threatened birds, mammals and amphibians are located in the tropics
  • Australia, Brazil, China and Mexico hold particularly large numbers of threatened species
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the most important international classification list of species according to their extinction risk
  • Currently there are more then 40,000 species of plants and animals listed in the IUCN Red List
* data from IUCN

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