Endangered Species Essay

Submitted By monisa12msn
Words: 861
Pages: 4

Facts About Endangered Species * According to scientists, more than one and one-half million species exist on the earth today. However, recent estimates state that at least 20 times that many species inhabit the planet. * In the United States, 735 species of plants and 496 species of animals are listed as threatened or endangered. * 266 of these listed species have recovery plans currently under development. * There are more than 1,000 animal species endangered worldwide. * There are more than 3,500 protected areas in existence worldwide. These areas include parks, wildlife refuges and other reserves. They cover a total of nearly 2 million square miles (5 million square km), or 3% of our total land area. * Aquatic species, which are often overlooked, are facing serious trouble. One third of the United States’ fish species, two-thirds of its crayfish species, and almost three-quarters of its mussel species are in trouble.
Why Save Endangered Species? * Plants and animals hold medicinal, agricultural, ecological, commercial and aesthetic/recreational value. Endangered species must be protected and saved so that future generations can experience their presence and value.
Medicinal
* Plants and animals are responsible for a variety of useful medications. In fact, about forty percent of all prescriptions written today are composed from the natural compounds of different species. These species not only save lives, but they contribute to a prospering pharmaceutical industry worth over $40 billion annually. Unfortunately, only 5% of known plant species have been screened for their medicinal values, although we continue to lose up to 100 species daily. * The Pacific yew, a slow-growing tree found in the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, was historically considered a "trash" tree (it was burned after clearcutting). However, a substance in its bark taxol was recently identified as one of the most promising treatments for ovarian and breast cancer. * Additionally, more than 3 million American heart disease sufferers would perish within 72 hours of a heart attack without digitalis, a drug derived from the purple foxglove.
Agricultural
* There are an estimated 80,000 edible plants in the world. Humans depend upon only 20 species of these plants, such as wheat and corn, to provide 90% of the world's food. Wild relatives of these common crops contain essential disease-resistant material. They also provide humans with the means to develop new crops that can grow in inadequate lands such as in poor soils or drought-stricken areas to help solve the world hunger problem. In the 1970s, genetic material from a wild corn species in Mexico was used to stop a leaf fungus that had previously wiped out 15% of the U.S. corn crop
Ecological
* Plant and animal species are the foundation of healthy ecosystems. Humans depend on ecosystems such as coastal estuaries, prairie grasslands, and ancient forests to purify their air, clean their water, and supply them with food. When species become endangered, it is an indicator that the health of these vital ecosystems is beginning to unravel. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that losing one plant species can trigger the loss of up to 30 other insect, plant and higher animal species. * The northern spotted owl, listed as threatened in 1990, is an indicator of the declining health of the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. These forests are the home to over 100 other old-growth dependent species, which are at risk due to…