Our planet is very beautiful. There are a lot of deep seas and powerful rivers, high mountains and great forests, wide plains and green valleys on the Earth.
Life began on our planet about 3,500 million years ago. The first living things were found in the sea, and over millions of years, from these early life forms, a lot of animals has developed.
They live happily on the Earth for a long time: they drink clean water, eat healthy food and breathe the fresh air... Modern man appeared about 30,000 years ago.
Many years ago people lived in harmony with the nature. People believed for a long time that whatever they did the Earth would remain the same. People thought that the natural riches were unlimited. But they werent true.
Nowadays our planet is in great danger. People pollute water in the oceans, seas and rivers with industrial and nuclear waste. Modern plants and factories send a lot of smoke and dust into the atmosphere.
People cut down a lot of forests for making paper and furniture, building new farms and roads. They destroy wildlife and so many animals and plants lose their homes. Thats why a lot of them are disappearing nowadays.
The animal kingdom is very large and we dont know for certain how many species there are in the world. But scientists think that more than 1.5 million of them exist on the earth nowadays.
However, much more animals lived on our planet earlier. Millions of species – animals, birds and fish have already disappeared from the planet, thousand of others will be gone tomorrow. More than 500 species of plants and animals have become extinct since the 16-th century.
The dodo was one of them. It has become a symbol of extinction. "Dead as a dodo" people say. It was a big flightless pigeon looked like a turkey which lived on the island of Mauritius. People landed on the island in the 16-th century killed the helpless bird for food. The dodo became extinct by 1681.
11 Extinct Animals That Have Been Photographed Alive They died out for ever in: Quagga,1883 Passenger Pigeon, 1914 Bubal Hartebeest, 1923
Baiji River Dolphin, 2006Chinese River Dolphin, 2006 Golden Toad, 1989 Pyrenean Ibex, 2000
Every 10 minutes one kind of animal, plant or insect dies out for ever. If nothing is done about it, one million species that are alive today will have become extinct 20 years from now. Today there are about 5,000 endangered animals. We can find their names in the Red Book.
Today many more animals are in danger not only because man destroys and pollutes their habitats but because man kills them. Seals, Indian tigers, African elephants and rhinos are among such animals.
A lot of tigers are often hunted just for fun and for their beautiful skin. As a result there are few Indian tigers on the Earth now.
Siberian tigers - the world's largest cats - live in cold Siberia in Russia. They are highly endangered and there may be fewer than 200 tigers in the wild.
We can say the same thing about African elephants. These wonderful animals are in the greatest danger of extinction from hunters. They are killed for ivory.
Do you know that only several hundreds of rhinos leave in Asia now?
Snow Leopards are beautiful wild cats that live high in the snowy mountains of Central Asia. They are fast runners, good swimmers and excellent climbers. These beautiful animals are in danger of extinction now. People destroy their homes, hunt snow leopards for their beautiful warm fur and for their organs, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Besides, people often hunt them just for fun or for sport. As a result, very few snow Leopards are left in the wild. Only about 6,000 animals live in their natural habitat and about 600 leopards live in zoos around the world.
Over 40 thousand monkeys are caught every year. Some of them, for example mountain gorillas and golden lion tamarins, are highly endangered. Mountain gorillas are often killed for food and there are only about 650 gorillas in the wild now. Tamarins are caught alive and sold as a pet so only about 150 these tiny monkeys live in the rainforests of Brazil.
Pandas are in danger, too. You can see these funny animals in the zoos but there are only about 700 pandas in the wild. People cut down the forests to grow food and build houses so pandas cant find a place to live.
Today there are no Californian condors in the wild - the only living birds are kept in zoos. During the nineteenth century many of them were killed by gold diggers who collected their long black feathers.
Water pollution kills more than 300 dolphins and seals every day. Besides, a lot of dolphins are hurt by boats and ships. A lot of seals are killed for their skin.
The blue whale is the largest animal on our planet. It lives mainly in the cold waters of the Arctic and Antarctic. In 1900 there were blue whales in the oceans. During the whaling season of 1930 to 1931 alone 30,000 blue whales were killed by hunters. Now there are less than Besides, they are in great danger from water pollution.
Even polar bears suffer from water and air pollution. Many of them are sick animals. They are the first animals to become endangered because of global warming. There are between and polar bears in the world.
There are a lot of other animals which are also in great danger of extinction. Some we know well but most are plants, insects and reptiles which names are even unknown.
Nowadays people begin to understand that they must take special care of wild nature. People in different countries make laws to protect endangered animals and birds from extinction, create national parks and reserves. There are 40 national parks in Russia and more than 50 national parks in the USA nowadays.