Today is UN World Wildlife Day and this year’s theme is: Listening to the Young Voices. Today's global celebration was established to honor the fauna and flora of our wild places; and to bring awareness of the importance of preventing the extinction of our Wildlife via habitat destruction, climate change, and illegal hunting. The survival of each plant and animal lies in all future generations, making it is so important to bring awareness of conservation to the youth of today. The more engaged they get, the more motivated they are to change the fate of all endangered wildlife for the better.
In honor of this theme, we thought it would be fun to interview third graders and see how much they know about Endangered Species. We learned kids are kids: refreshingly frank and honest. They don’t need to know the reasoning behind everything to know why something is wrong. Details aren't as important to them, but destructive results are. Here is a summary of the interviews:
Do you know what an Endangered Species is?
All 25 of the third graders interviewed knew something about endangered species. One even answered with a confident, “of course!” When we asked them if they knew of an animal on the Endangered Species list, the majority of them said yes and went on to name one. Orangutan, Elephant, Jaguar, and Tigers were among the many listed.
Why is it important for you to protect Endangered Plants and Animals?
Many of the answers we received on this question were frank and to the point:
“so they don’t go extinct” or “so they don’t die off.”
We didn't talk about the details of what harms certain species with the kids, but they comprehended that their own future could be without some "pretty cool wildlife," unless action is taken to stop their extinction. They also understood that each species is important to humans and our ecosystem. One girl told us,
“Some animals help us live. Also, I would be very sad if an animal today became extinct.”
It’s such a kid answer and yet it’s true. Sometimes we allow politics, science, philosophy, and details to get in the way of the obvious. If we keep illegally killing certain animals, they will completely die off affecting their delicate ecosystem (and eventually ours). So long as we ignore the issue of climate change, habitats will actively be destroyed and the life they house will be no more. One little boy's answer spoke more truth then he probably knew:
“Because they could become extinct and it is our fault usually.”
It’s quite simple in the eyes of a third grader: Take responsibility and protect them before they are gone for good.
What Endangered Animal do you want to protect the most?
We gave the children a list of 8 endangered species and of course, they struggled to just choose one. Leopard, Black Rhino, Sumatran Elephant, and Red Wolf seemed to be the top picks, but most wanted to protect them all. Though animals are extremely important to our ecosystem, it’s also important to teach kids about protecting Endangered Plants as well. We need plants to perform important functions like purifying the air, filtering harmful substances out of water, turning decayed matter into nutrients, preventing erosion and flooding, and tempering the climate. All things that sounded pretty important to our third grade surveyors.
This was a refreshing group to talk to about such an important issue, because of their innocent honesty. We may have heard the words 'mean' and 'sad' dropped when the kids were describing Endangered Species. Those words couldn't be more true. It is mean and sad to rob future generations of important animals and plants, but we all can make a difference if we try.
Check out this website (http://wildlifeday.org/) for more information on what you can do to be a part of this movement and enjoy some advice from one of the many Endangered Animals: Advice from a Sea Lion.