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4 Endangered Animals You Can Protect & How

I’ve always had a love for elephants and giraffes. All of my closest friends and family know this, usually surprising me on my birthday or Christmas with some kind of elephant or giraffe jewelry, trinket or stuffed animal. From elephant bedsheets, pillows and shirts, to giraffe coffee mugs and bracelets — my adoration for these animals is pretty apparent. But lately, I’ve been realizing that sporting them like this this isn’t nearly enough. 

After taking a look at this past years’ endangered species list and reading articles about poaching and other threats to their habitats, I’ve realized that the animals I’ve come to love are rapidly decreasing. I’ve also been researching ways that I can make a difference — of any magnitude — to these detrimental circumstances. 

As busy collegiettes, it’s often hard to dedicate ourselves to a cause as big as this. But there are small steps that we can take to help protect the animals that we love, and keep them thriving on the earth for many years to come. Check out this list of little ways you can contribute to the protection of endangered animals, including my favorites, elephants, giraffes, and more!

1. Elephants

The Problem: Though there are several species of elephants, one of the most predominant species — the Asian elephant — are rapidly approaching extinction. There are several contributing factors leading to the species’ decline, but two major factors are their loss of habitat and humans illegally killing (poaching) them to retrieve their ivory tusks. Asian Elephants’ natural habitats are rapidly depleting as well, being taken over by increasing human populations, leading many of them to starve to death. 

How you can help: 

Buy fair trade Coffee. Many crops grown in areas where elephants roam often destroy their habitats, one of those being coffee crops. As college students, many of us need coffee to survive — so why not choose coffee options that give these elephants a better chance at surviving? By buying Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified fair trade coffee, you can help save Asian elephants by not buying coffee that grows, and thus contributes to the destruction of their primary habitats. Popular shops such as Peets Coffee offers different fair trade coffee options. If you are LA based, one of my favorite shops in West LA, the Coffee Connection, also serves fair trade coffee. 

Adopt an Elephant. Although you can’t keep these adorable creatures at home with you, you can still “adopt” one in a different way! By giving a small donation of any amount that works for you each month, you’ll get regular updates on how your elephant is doing, an adoption certificate, a bag, stuffed elephant, and more — all while helping fund conservation efforts for elephants. Each donation goes directly towards restoring habitats that are getting destroyed, training and equipping anti-poaching patrols, and more. WWF has a great program where you can adopt.

Buy cute clothes from Ivory Ella! Ivory Ella makes adorable elephant-printed clothes, accessories and jewelry for both men and women. The best part? Money garnered from buying these products goes towards research, prevention and awareness for the ivory trade, one of the most detrimental factors to the decline of elephants. 10% of all proceeds goes to Save the Elephants. 

2. Giraffes

The problem: Just this past December, Giraffes made their way onto the endangered species list. Over the past 30 years, Giraffes have declined ~40%, predominately due to threats of habitat loss from deforestation and agricultural growth, poaching, and various forms of civil unrest such as military operations. 

How you can helpSign a petition against Giraffe poaching. One very easy but impactful way to help giraffes is to sign a petition for poaching, also commonly known as trophy hunting. One particular petition for this specific problem facing giraffes that is gaining traction currently can be accessed here. It asks the International Union for Conservation of Nature to enforce new laws to ensure complete protection against this poaching. Collectivity on these issues is a great way to bring attention to the cause and bring about change, and does not require much effort! You can find other similar petitions here

Adopt a Giraffe     You can do the same thing for giraffes as you can for elephants by adopting them – check it out at WWF

Buy cute jewelry from Dsenyo to support conservation groups fighting poaching.      Dsenyo is a fair-trade gifts company that has a jewelry collection with material made from snare-wire traps that were collected on anti-poaching patrols in Zambia. With each piece of jewelry sold, the company donates $5 to conservation groups in Zambia that are fighting poaching. Many giraffe populations roam in Zambia. 

image courtesy of Dsenyo.com  

3. Orangutans

The problem: Orangutans have suffered a significant population reduction in recent years due to a few factors, a primary one being that their forest habitats have been rapidly converting by humans. Currently, Sumatran orangutans are listed as “critically endangered,” meaning they are at the highest possible risk for extinction. Forests are continuously being cleared for oil-palm plantations covering vast areas of of their habitat. Sumatran orangutans, one of the two species of orangutans, are often deliberately killed on a completely illegal basis, and the surviving infants end up in an illegal pet trade. 

How you can help:  Only buy products with sustainable palm oil. Did you know that you likely use products or eat food with palm oil every day? Palm oil is commonly used in products like detergent, shampoo, ice cream, and much more. As said above, the integration of oil-palm plantations are one of the leading factors contributing to the decline of the Sumatran orangutans. Though you of course don’t have to avoid these products completely, (it’s probably close to impossible) you can still help by choosing products that include only sustainable palm oil. To do this, just glance at the label for the product and look for either the RSPO label or Green Palm label, and just like that, you take a step to help protect these very endangered animals’ habitats. 

See what the labels look like below: 

4. Tigers

The problem:  Tigers are another major victim of poaching, as they are hunted for their skins, bones and meats. Poaching is considered the greatest threat to their declining population. Tigers are predominantly found in various densely populated and rapidly developing regions of Asia, which brings large pressures to bear on the large wild areas needed for viable Tiger populations. Conversion of forest land to things such as agriculture and human settlement are the main factors of tiger habitat loss. 

How you can help:  Reduce use of products derived from forests. Since tigers require such vast amounts of wild areas to maintain decent size populations, another easy step you can do is to recycle and limit use of products, especially paper and timber.  

See above: Buying fair trade coffee and products with sustainable palm oil will have the same impact with tigers as well! 


image courtesy of Peets.com

Sarah Ahern is a sophomore at UC Irvine studying literary journalism. Aside from writing for HerCampus, she interns for the self-help website DreamitAlive.com. In her free time, she enjoys writing, playing tennis, and baking.
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