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Endangered Species
Goal: To learn about different endangered species
Grade Level: 4 -5

Endangered Species are species of animals that are being threatened to extinction due to many factors. The difference between an endangered species and an extinct species is there is still time to save the endangered species. However, this time frame is very limited and hence it very important to act fast to save these animals.

What is an eco-system?

To understand endangered species, it is important to understand an ecosystem. Just like how the environment effects the way an animals adapts itself, groups of living things that live in an area effect the environment. They are interdependant and interelated and make up an ecosystem. An ecosystem is a combination of living and non-living things that live in a community. Refer to previous lesson plans on eco-system and animal adaption to the environment to understand this concept. An example of an ecosystem could be a small drop of water or the whole earth.

Now ask your students to imagine a small garden in front of a house and explain what are the living and non-living things that could interact to make up a garden eco-system. (sunlight, water, plants, bees, butterflies, etc.)

Why is it important to save endangered animals?
Endgangered animals like other living things are part of an ecosystem. Since all the parts of the ecosystem are interelated, if an animal is endangered then it means that that particular ecosystem is being threatened.

Human beings are dependant on different eco-systems for our survival. For example, there are people who depend on the river ecosystem for fishing and making a livng out of it. Different people in various areas of the world depend on one of more ecosystems to survive. So it is important to act fast and save an animal that is endangered.

Bengal Tiger

Bat as an endangered species

Greater Horse-Shoe Bat
Out of 45 species of bats in the United States, 6 species are endangered. Bats are declinining in number because of their habitat destruction mostly due to the use of pesticides and chemical toxicants.

Bats are major predators of night-flying insects. One bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 mosquitoes in 1 hour. So we need the bats to keep the population of night-flying insects in check.
Organizations working with bat conservation are trying to protect the important bat habitats from further damage and education the public about the need for bat conservation.

  • Video of a bat eating worms - they eat about 500 worms in an hour.
  • Commentary on Bats in New Zealand

Rhinoceros as an endangered species
Rhinoceros eat various plants and distributing their seeds in other areas. This helps in dispersion and survival of the plant species. Since it can take a rhino more than three days to digest a meal, seeds can be transported a significant distance before they are deposited in their droppings. Rhino dung also enhances soil fertility and nourishes the landscape.

Rhinos have inhabited the Earth for 60 million years. However all 5 species of the rhinoceros are declining in population at a fast rate mainly due to poaching for their coveted horn. Rhinos use their horns not only in battles for territory or females but also to defend themselves from lions, tigers and hyenas. Rhinoceros horns are valued highly in traditional chinese medicine and some traditional tribal beliefs. Also, rhino horns are carved into dagger handles which are symbols of wealth and status in some Arab countries like Yemen.

Although there are different conservation efforts undertaken in Africa and other part of the world that are native to Rhinos to ban paching, there is also great resistance due to the high value of a rhino horn. Two Rhino horns can fetch up to $50000 dollars.

  • Look at their highly priced horns shaped liked a dagger
  • One Horned Rhino in Africa

Black Rhinoceros

Orangutans as an endangered species

Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling animals. They eat seed and disperse them and hence are of importance in their forest ecosystem. Also, Oranguatan with other Apes are closest genetically to human beings and hence give scientists clues to human behavior and thinking.

Oranguatans that once were found in many areas of Asia are now restricted to living in the Islands of Sumatra and Borneo (rain forest areas). The decline of oranguatans indicates that the fragile tropical rain forest ecosystem is being destroyed. They are declining in number because forest are being cut down in large numbers due to human activity.

Both international laws and national laws in Malaysia and other surrounding countries have been created to protect oranguatans. Hopefully these laws will be enforced consistently to protect these magnficent animals.

  • Orangutan making faces - shows how close they are to humans!
  • Orangutans grooming - they form an important link to understanding human behavior

Siberian Tiger as an endangered species
Siberian Tigers are found in eastern Siberia and also in northern China and Korea. It is estimated that not more than 200 siberian tigers are living in these areas.

Siberian Tigers have been hunted for centuries for their beautiful thick fur that keeps them warm during the winter. However, now they are near extinction.

Tigers are carnivorous and are on top of the food chain in their ecosystem and they hunt many small animals like boars, wild pigs, deers, elks, lynx, bears, rabbits, and fishes. Extinction of this majestic mammal could mean the disturbance of yet another important ecosystem.

  • Siberian Tiger yawning in the wild

Siberian Tiger

Coral Reef as an endangered species

Although coral reefs look like pretty plants, they are animals. Many marine animals like fish, mollusks sea urchins depend on coral reefs for their survival. Coral reefs are an important marine ecosystem, that is being destroyed at a fast rate due to pollution, climate change (global warming) and destructive fishing.

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