The animal lovers and conservationists among us may well be aware that Friday 21st May is National Endangered Species Day. This is a day to remind us of just how fragile the existence of our wildlife is and to spread awareness of our dwindling biodiversity. This is an issue that stretches further than merely one day's recognition, and an essential topic to educate our children on. After all, children are the future custodians of our planet; teaching them the value of our wildlife is crucial in raising an environmentally aware generation.
Why is it important to teach children about endangered species?
Learning about endangered plants and animals is an opportunity for children to develop compassion, and understanding how creatures are displaced by our actions is an excellent way to foster compassion in our youth.
‘Teaching our children about compassion is one of the most important things we can do for them and the future of humanity’ – Dalai Lama
By recognising that our actions have direct consequences on the world around us, we teach children the importance of accountability and acknowledging our own responsibility.
Through learning about different types of endangered species, more developed children will come to understand the relationship between habitat, hunting, and food chains, and how these features impact the livelihood of our wildlife.
Endangered Species Fact File:
An endangered species is a population of animals, plants, or other organisms that is in danger of becoming extinct
When a species becomes extinct, it means that type of wildlife no longer exists, and there isn’t any left in the world
40% of animals, insects, and plants are at risk of extinction across the world
Things that put wildlife at risk of becoming endangered include environmental changes, overhunting by predators, poaching, changing or destructing habitats for human gain, and natural disasters
Today’s Blue Whale population is under 1% of its original size
Lots of different animals are linked together through the food chain - or because they share a habitat - when one species becomes extinct, it can have a domino effect on others
There’s a tremendous need for a worldwide conservation effort to prevent many of the species we cherish from being lost forever. The good news – there's lots we can do to help.
Become a member of the national wildlife federation https://www.nwf.org/Get-Involved/Membership
If you can, donate or adopt endangered animals https://www.wwf-adopt-a-animal.co.uk/charities/wwf-animal-adoptions/?keyword=adopt%20endangered%20animal&device=c&vm=generic
Take time to read up on endangered species, there are plenty of excellent child-friendly stories that highlight the importance of protecting our wildlife, for example:
‘George Saves the World by Lunchtime’, Dr. Jo Readman
‘Danny Dodo’s Detective Diary: learn all about extinct and endangered animals’, Rob Hodgson
‘Charlie and Lola: Look After Your Planet’, Lauren Child
‘I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’, Alison Inches
If you’re able to go to a zoo that holds some endangered species in protective captivity, be sure to organize a visit with your children
Download the app ‘Inaturalist’ – this is a great way for you and your children to get outdoors, observe nature, and chronicle various species right from your garden.
Resources for children:
Endangered species colouring sheet https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t-sc-120-new-endangered-animals-colouring-sheets
Endangered animals poster – perfect to help your children learn that living things depend on each other and the environment to survive https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/au-t2-s-1070-endangered-animals-causes-display-poster
This colourful PowerPoint is an interactive way to get young children thinking about endangered animals, looking at species like the Black Rhino and Red Panda https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t-tp-53-endangered-animals-who-am-i-powerpoint
A-Z of endangered animals poster https://tpet.co.uk/downloads/a-z-of-endangered-animals-poster/