Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
Governments, wildlife organizations, scientists, and ordinary people do a wide range of conservation work to protect wild places and all the species living there. We all depend on plants and animals for food, clothing, and medicines. In addition, plants provide life-giving oxygen. It makes sense to protect the natural world.
Preserving natural habitats protects all of the animals and plants that live in them. All over the world, large areas of wilderness are now protected as national parks and reserves, where harming wildlife is illegal. Types of forestry and farming that harvest resources without damaging the environment are also important. So is legislation against pollution.
As a first step, scientists find out about the needs of the endangered species, so that suitable conditions can be provided. Next, zoos lend each other animals for breeding. If the program is successful, some of the offspring may be reintroduced to the wild.
One way to help is to join a large organization such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) or Greenpeace. Membership fees are used to pay for conservation work or to save areas of natural habitat. You can also join local wildlife groups to conserve habitats near your home.
Without conservation, there would be a lot less wildlife around. In the second half of the 20th century, conservationists helped stop large-scale hunting of whales, allowing their populations to recover. Huge areas of rainforest and other habitats have also been protected, saving many species from extinction.
The Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) restricts trade in threatened wildlife. In addition, many zoos run captive breeding programs to save rare animals. In most countries, it is illegal to harm or disturb rare species.