Stop Extinction! How Can You Help?

Why should we care?

  • FishmarketLiving organisms keep the planet habitable. Plants and bacteria carry out photosynthesis, which produces oxygen. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, which can help in the fight against global warming.
  • The monetary value of goods and services provided by natural ecosystems (including gas regulation, waste treatment, and nutrient recycling) is estimated to amount to some 33 trillion euro per year - nearly twice the global production resulting from human activities.
  • Many species are of immense value to humans as sources of food, medicines, fuel and building materials. Between 10,000 and 20,000 plant species are used in medicines worldwide.
  • Currently about 100 million metric tons of aquatic organisms, including fishes, molluscs, and crustaceans, are taken from the wild every year and represent a vital contribution to world food security.
  • Meat from wild animals (wild meat) forms a critical contribution to food sources and livelihoods in many areas particularly in countries with high levels of poverty and food insecurity. A huge range of species are involved including monkeys, tapirs, antelopes, pigs, pheasants, turtles and snakes.
  • The diversity of nature helps meet the recreational, emotional, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic needs of people.


Photo: Sturgeon at a fish market in Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. With the loss of these fish these people may lose their livelihood and a food source. Photographed by Flydime on 15 October 2008. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


Can extinction be stopped?

It takes huge efforts at all levels, from individual to global, to halt species extinction, a constant input and analysis of data on species, their habitats and threats. The tools in the conservation arsenal are many and varied and include:
  • Effective management and restoration of habitats and ecosystems (including establishment of protected areas and protected area networks).
  • Enforcement of key agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on Migratory Species, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • Creating incentives and finance for conservation.
  • Equitable sharing of costs and benefits.
  • Assessment of biodiversity and related social and economic factors.
  • Captive breeding and reintroduction, including seed banks.
  • Conservation information management and communication.
  • Limiting the use of pesticides, herbicides and other chemical pollutants.
  • Training and technical capacity-building.


How can you help?

More and more, every decision you make, as an individual or as a family, has a direct impact on the health of our planet. The way we all live our lives - the products we buy, the food we eat, the transport we use - determine what kind of world we will leave for our children and for our children's children. There are numerous ways that you can make a difference to prevent extinction, here some of them:

  • Donate or join nature conservation organisations:
    • Become a regular contributor to nature conservation organisation. If you are unable to commit to annual membership contributions, you can still make a donation to conservation work. Every bit helps!

  • Buy Stewardship Council products:
  • Say "No" to Bad Souvenirs
    • Ivory SouvenirsSouvenirs are great. But some items you buy have harmed endangered species. And, they might be illegal to bring home. Beware of products made with turtle shell, ivory, coral, and some furs and reptile skins. When in doubt, don't buy!

    • Photo: Confiscated ivory souvenirs at an elephant exhibition in the Indian Elephant enclosure in Emmen Zoo, the Netherlands. Photographed by Peter Maas on 3 August 2004. This image has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 licence.

  • Green electricity
    • You can start cutting your own global warming pollution today. How? By cutting down on wasted energy and using more clean energy. For example buy non-polluting green electricity from your electricity company. If they don't sell it, can you change power companies to one that does? And fit solar panels on the roof of your home. Turn your own home into a power station!

  • Visit parks and nature reserves
    • Vicunas in PeruVisitor demand and tourist expenditures support existing protected areas and can lead to the protection of additional nature. Get any necessary permits before visiting nature reserves or other protected areas. Leave these areas as you found them and do not disturb the wildlife there.

    • Photos: Vicuñas (Vicugna vicugna) in the Pampa Galeras National Reserve in Peru. Photographed by Peter Maas on 3 August 2004. This image has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 licence.

  • Respect the environment
    • Stay on trails during hikes, do not remove plants or feed animals, and never litter. At the sea do not take any corals, shells, dried fish, starfish, sea-fans and other marine souvenirs - removal can seriously disrupt ecosystems. Navigation in reef water needs special care - do not anchor on reefs which can be easily damaged.

  • Don't release pets into the wild
    • Pets, like fresh water turtles, rodents, dogs, cats, etc. can often survive in the wild. There they can become alien invasive species and become a problem for native species.


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Citation: Maas, P.H.J. (2010). Stop Extinction! How Can You Help?. In: TSEW (). The Sixth Extinction Website. <>. Downloaded on .
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Updated: 14 August 2010


News Highlight

24 June 2012. The last Pinta giant tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdoni) Lonesome George dies. Read more: BBC News.


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