Did you know that April was animal awareness month? It is important that people help to take care of their community and other people, but we should also be taking care of our animals. You might be surprised by the important roles animals play in our environment.

For example, dogs and rats can be trained to sniff out dangerous explosives in the ground and bees pollinate one-third of everything we eat. Sadly, bees’ numbers are dropping and, since 1974, your chances of seeing a bee are 50% less likely.

The worst part is that there are hundreds of thousands of animals with numbers dropping and being added to the endangered list. Some of the endangered are the amur leopard, black rhinoceros, Bornean orangutan, cross river gorilla, eastern lowland gorilla, hawksbill sea turtle, Sumatran rhinoceros, vaquita, Sumatran elephant, Indochinese tiger, saola, Sumatran orangutan, mountain gorilla, western lowland gorilla,  Javan rhinoceros, and Asiatic cheetah.

One of the most likely to be extinct soon is the amur leopard. They are illegally hunted for their fur and because of the threat they pose. In southeastern Russia and northeastern China, where they are native, there were only 19 to 26 wild leopards in 2007 and an estimate done in 2019 said there were about 90 leopards. They are considered one of the rarest cats on earth. The amur leopards are important because they are top predators in their landscape and they play a crucial role for keeping the right balance of species.

Many endangered animals are important and we don’t even realize it. For instance, gorillas and tigers are important to the food chain, the hawksbill sea turtle maintains health of the coral reefs, and orangutans preserve tropical rainforests. These animals aren’t the only important animals, there are many. It is important that we do our best to save endangered species and other important animals and insects that help us maintain our way of life.


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Tara Woodward