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We've been putting effort into identifying and protecting animals and have some success stories to point to, but we are still causing much more damage than is acceptable. The current extinction rate (for plants and animals combined) is estimated at 1000 times higher than it has been throughout history without human intervention, referred to as the background extinction rate.

We fortunately do have many programs working to reverse this problem
Proportion of all known mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish species that are endangered, threatened, or that we don't know enough about.Credit: IUCN Red List
Overall, approximately 10% of vertebrate species are threatened, in addition to thousands of invertebrates (over 40% of those evaluated). And this only includes the animals that we know about and have enough information on to declare threatened. We are discovering new animals and getting more information about known animals all the time. The graphs below show the breakdown of the types of animals that are threatened and how badly endangered they are. Many of these are protected by either endangered species legislation or by being inside protected spaces, but there are still hundreds of animals with no protected areas anywhere in their range.

We fortunately do have many programs working to reverse this problem that have had some success in recent years. We have protected almost 12% of the Earth's land surface, with 9 of the 14 major terrestrial biomes having greater than 10% of their area protected, or in other words, we have targeted a lot of different types of areas. There are also a lot of recently successful captive breeding and species reintroduction efforts. Zoos, aquariums, wildlife refuges, and other institutions are working together to try to protect more spaces, to keep alive animals whose habitats are under great stress or no longer existent, and to release animals back into the wild. At the same time, researchers are trying to learn more about animals, their status in the wild, and how to best protect them in the wild and in captivity.

TIME Magazine - The New Age of Extinction
Article on the dangers and problems associated with the current extinction rate. Published in the April 13, 2009 print edition.
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IUCN Red List Statistics
Statistics from the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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IUCN Red List Statistics
Statistics from the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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National Geographic - Protected Spaces and Endangered Species
Article describing findings that despite the large amount of spaces we have protected, we are still missing some in very key areas.
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National Geographic - Protected Spaces and Endangered Species
Article describing findings that despite the large amount of spaces we have protected, we are still missing some in very key areas.
Click now to view
National Geographic - Protected Spaces and Endangered Species
Article describing findings that despite the large amount of spaces we have protected, we are still missing some in very key areas.
Click now to view
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