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  • According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than 19,000 animal and plant species are at risk of becoming extinct, many due to the actions of humans. Contributing factors include illegal trade and hunting, overfishing, habitat destruction, invasive species, emerging diseases, and climate change.

    Although extinction is a normal process, the historical rate based on the fossil record was 10 to 100 species per year—for all species everywhere. The current rate is at least 1,000 times higher. In response, scientists are working together with research and conservation organizations, communities, and governments to gather the information needed to protect animals at risk. Their methods include monitoring population size, protecting ecosystems, and captive breeding.

    On this map are animal species whose future depends on whether we take steps to conserve them, or not.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    conservation Noun

    management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

    Encyclopedic Entry: conservation
    critically endangered Noun

    level of conservation between "endangered" and "extinct in the wild."

    endangered species Noun

    organism threatened with extinction.

    Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species
    extinct Adjective

    no longer existing.

    extinct in the wild Noun

    highest level of conservation of a living species, when the only living members of that species are protected in captivity such as zoos or aquariums.

    habitat Noun

    environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: habitat