Endangered Species Day
Although we will celebrate Earth Day on April 22, another important date for our planet is May 21, Endangered Species Day. The first known species to disappear forever was the dodo bird. Dutch sailors mentioned it in records in 1598. But by 1662 it was gone; hunted to extinction. This was one of the first signs that people needed to pay more attention to species of plants and animals. All species contribute to the maintenance, order and sustainability of various ecosystems. The most endangered animal now is the Javan rhinoceros, with black and Sumatran rhinos close behind on the endangered species list. Other animals severely endangered are the amur leopard, vaquita (a small harbor porpoise) and mountain gorilla. The World Wildlife Fund predicts that by 2050 some varieties of tigers, orangutans, leopards and whales as well as polar bears and cheetahs, among others, may be extinct. By June 2019 one million species of plants and animals were at risk of extinction. To help preserve endangered species the following organizations are working to maintain our wildlife: International Rhino Fund, World Wildlife Fund, Project AWARE (working to eliminate debris in water), Jane Goodall Institute (preserving acres of habitat as well as gorillas and chimps) and Panthera, devoted to 38 wildcat species.