Why do animals die
Extinction means that there is no longer a species of animal or plant on earth that was there for a long time before. When the last animal or plant of a species dies, the whole species is extinct. There will never be living beings of this kind on earth again. Many extinct animal and plant species have existed on Earth a very long time before they disappeared from it. Some of them for several million years.
The dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago. That was a lot of animal species at once, namely all the dinosaur species that existed back then. It's called a mass extinction. The Neanderthals became extinct 30,000 years ago, it was a human species. At the same time as the Neanderthals lived our ancestors, the human species "Homo Sapiens". However, this species of people is not extinct, which is why we are here today.
How does extinction happen?
If only very few animals of a particular species are left, that species is threatened with extinction. The species can only continue to exist if the animals of this species continue to reproduce, i.e. bring young animals into the world. In this way, the genes of the species are passed on from the parent animals to their offspring. If there is only a single pair of an extinct species left, it may not reproduce. Maybe the animals are too old or sick for that, maybe they live individually and never meet. Then when these two animals die, the species is extinct. There will never be animals of this kind again, because all animals that had the genes of this animal species are dead.
It is similar with plant species. Plants also have offspring, for example from seeds. The genes of the plant species are in the seeds. If the reproduction of a plant species no longer continues, for example because the seeds can no longer germinate, this plant species will also die out.
Why are species dying out?
If an animal or a plant species goes extinct, it can have very different causes. Each species needs a specific habitat. This is an area in nature that has very specific properties that are important for the species. Owls, for example, need forests, eels need clean rivers and lakes, and bees need meadows and fields with flowering plants. If this habitat gets smaller and smaller, or is cut up by roads, or loses a certain important property, a species can no longer live well there. The number of animals gets smaller and smaller until the last one dies.
Environmental pollution and climate change also lead to the extinction of animal and plant species because their habitat deteriorates significantly as a result. Finally, animal species are threatened if they are hunted down too much. Since humans have had a great influence on life on earth through industry and agriculture, around a thousand times as many animal and plant species have died out as before in the same period of time. When many species become extinct in a short period of time, it is called species extinction. For around 8,000 years there has even been another era of mass extinction. The cause of this is the human being.
What can be done about species extinction?
There are international organizations that are committed to protecting the environment. For example, they keep a “Red List of Endangered Species”. On this list are species that are critically endangered. The environmentalists then try to save animal and plant species that are on this list from extinction. This also includes protecting the habitats of these species. For example, by building toad tunnels for toads so that they can crawl under a road.
Often attempts are made to keep the last animals of a species in zoos. Here the animals are looked after and protected from diseases. You bring males and females together in the hope that they will have offspring and that the species will be preserved.
The kakapo is very critically endangered. In 1994 there were only 47 of these flightless parrots left from New Zealand.
An extinct plant species of which only this drawing from 1841 remains.
The Rhone nerd is threatened with extinction. In 2012 only 52 of these fish were counted in the Rhone.
The last black beach bunting. She died on June 18, 1987.
The quagga was related to the zebra. The last quagga died on August 12, 1883.
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