Endangered Species

Endangered species are animals or plants or any life form (from fungi (eg mushrooms) to bacteria (tiny living cells)) that are at risk of dying out or becoming extinct (lost from our planet).

What animals can you think of that are extinct?

Illustration from mentalfloss.com

You might think of animals like dinosaurs, dodos, wooly mammoths or saber-tooth tigers. How many others can you think of and what can you find out about them?

The Steller's Sea Cow reached 11 tons and 30 feet long. It ...
The enormous Steller’s Sea Cow is extinct.
Illustration by Pieter Arend Fokens from reddit.com

Animals and other life forms did not just become extinct hundreds, thousands or even millions of years ago. They are going extinct every single day as their habitats (homes) are changed or destroyed.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists all the species of animals and other life forms that we know about (because there are still millions we do not know about!) and decides how ‘safe’ they are. Or how likely they are to becoming extinct.

In the UK we are also worried about species that may become extinct from our island. Species like wild cats in Scotland or smooth snakes in the south of England.

One little species that nearly disappeared was the cirl bunting. This is a little bird that once lived in villages and farmland habitat all the way from Cornwall to Yorkshire. But in 1989 the RSPB and Devon Birds counted only 118 pairs left in south Devon.

Cyril the cirl bunting. My illustration from my book.

I worked for the RSPB with land managers to make sure that the right habitat was created for cirl buntings to thrive. Now, thanks to the work of farmers and the RSPB, cirl bunting populations are increasing . I have written a book to celebrate the return of cirl buntings. It’s called ‘Cyril’s Big Adventure’.

The book also includes the cirl bunting’s conservation story, a map of Cyril’s adventure and a nature quiz. You can buy a signed & dedicated copy here. Also from RSPB Darts Farm & Arne Nature Reserves, NHBS online nature shop and bookshops throughout the UK. 5op from each copy sold goes to the RSPB’s cirl bunting conservation work.

To listen to me reading the story click here.

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