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5 ways you can help save species from extinction

© WLDavies

This year on World Wildlife Day, we turn our attention to the 1 million species that face extinction — and the surprising ways you can help them. Conservation News tapped five Conservation International experts for their suggestions on how you can help protect the planet’s wildlife, whether you’re relaxing on vacation or going out to dinner.

1. Speak up for nature

“The more conserved land and water we have, the better species will be able to move in response to the changing climate — so let your local and national political representatives know that you take conservation seriously. Whether you’re supporting your favorite national park or a local conservancy, let your voice be heard: Say something when the administration rolls back protections for protected areas such as Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, and cheer when your state fights back by establishing new parks or nature reserves. And when you do speak up for conservation, know that that protected areas are helping to reduce extinctions from climate change.” – Lee Hannah, senior climate change scientist at Conservation International

2. No seriously — make your voice heard

“Conservation starts locally. Your city council, your local government and your state representatives are there to represent you. If there are conservation and environmental issues in your town or state, then attend local government meetings and express your concerns. The voices of the public affect the decisions they make. Find your local or regional organizations that campaign for conservation and support them — whether it is through donations and petitions or through direct conservation activities, such as habitat restoration projects.” — Ian Harrison, freshwater specialist at Conservation International

3. Go off the beaten path

“So many of our decisions have a direct impact on our planet — from what we eat to where we go on vacation. For example: Think about how you travel. Mass tourism is proven to put a lot of pressure on ecologically sensitive areas — such as the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador or Yellowstone National Park in the United States. To avoid crowding and overtaxing these majestic places, try to vacation lighter by avoiding the typical tourism hotspots and by supporting ecotourism programs that employ local communities and prioritize conservation.” – Shyla Raghav, vice president, climate change at Conservation International

4. Trade in your gas guzzler

“The climate crisis is wreaking havoc on wildlife populations throughout the world, such as the billions of animals that died earlier this year in the Australian bushfires, which were exacerbated by climate change. Therefore, one of the best ways you can help protect animal species is by reducing your carbon footprint. Using clean public transportation or driving an electric car can help you reduce your individual emissions — which can go a long way in saving wildlife in the future.” – Jorge Ahumada, senior wildlife conservation scientist at Conservation International

5. Be choosy when choosing your food

“The food we eat and the way it’s grown has a major impact on the environment and wildlife. Agriculture is the leading cause of global deforestation, so it’s important to buy and eat local, sustainably produced food as much as possible. When that’s not an option, be smart about the products you’re purchasing. Read the labels and do your homework about the food you eat. For example, many processed foods contain palm oil, which is found in nearly half of all consumer goods on Earth. Always look for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) logo, which ensures you’re supporting companies committed to a sustainable supply of palm oil.” — Hank Cauley, senior vice president of Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business

Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates or donate to Conservation International.

Cover image: A mother and baby black rhino in Namibia (© WLDavies)

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