Endangered Animals: Threats and Solutions

Social Studies/Science

Students will learn about threats that endangered animals face, and identify steps that can save animals from extinction.

Background

Many wild animals face common threats. For example, loss of habitat threatens the American bald eagle, tiger, Karner blue butterfly, and hundreds of other animals. Overfishing threatens whales and many fish species. Chemical poisoning is responsible for declines in animal populations. People's demand for exotic pets threatens the desert tortoise. In many cases there are solutions to these threats. Here is a brief list of common problems and solutions.

Problems: poisoning from chemicals and lead shot, loss of habitat, environmental pollution, warming of climate, accidents with vehicles and ships, entanglement in fishing gear, noise pollution, overfishing, overgrazing, off-road vehicles, loss of food source

Solutions: bans on harmful chemicals and lead shot; captive breeding programs; ecotourism to promote people's awareness of living animals; controls on noise pollution, limits on overfishing and overhunting; limits on exotic pet collecting; protection of habitats from overdevelopment and misuse, protection of food supplies, creation of reserves

What You Need

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What to Do

  1. Ask students to brainstorm a list of animals that they think might be endangered. Next, ask students if they know why the animals are endangered. Then discuss what might be done to save the animals.
  2. Provide students with research materials. Then hand a copy of the Endangered Animals Research Form to each student. From the list provided, assign one or two animals to each student, or divide the class into small groups and assign one or more animals to each group.
  3. Explain to students that they will do research, focusing on two areas of information: why an animal is endangered (problem), and what could save the animal (solution). Have students complete the Endangered Animals Research Form.
  4. Have students share what they have learned with the class.

Teaching Options

Internet Resources

Wildlife—National Wildlife Federation
Here you will find detailed information about more than 30 threatened or endangered animals from around the world. The site offers background information, identifies specific threats, and details possible solutions.
http://www.nwf.org/wildlife/