7 Things You Need to Know About Wildlife Conservation
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7 Things You Need to Know About Wildlife Conservation

Many of our travel programs give students the chance to visit an animal sanctuary.  While doing a service project at a wildlife sanctuary is fun and rewarding, it’s beneficial to understand the importance of conservation. We’re sharing 7 things you need to know about wildlife conservation and animal sanctuaries. So, let’s jump in.

1. What is wildlife conservation?

Wildlife conservation is the practice of protecting animal species and their habitats. Yet the term “wildlife conservation” mostly refers to species that are endangered. Polar bears are a great example. Currently, they’re a vulnerable species because their numbers are decreasing (due to melting sea ice).

With diminished hunting grounds, polar bears must swim farther for food. Wildlife conservation efforts come into play with organizations like the WWF (World Wildlife Fund). Similar types of organizations raise awareness and funds to try to do something about this problem and to protect these animals.

2. Why is wildlife conservation important?

All animals play an important role in the ecosystem. If one species goes extinct, or a habitat is damaged because of deforestation or pollution it threatens the entire food chain and ecosystem. This is why wildlife conservation is so critical. The fine-tuned balance of earth’s ecosystem is in danger.

3. When did wildlife conservation begin?

Modern efforts protecting wildlife launched in earnest 140 years ago. Emily Williamson founded The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in 1889. The organization was intended to stop the killing of exotic birds for their large feathers and used for fashionable hats.

Since the 1880s other hunting, conservation, and scientific organizations formed and lobbied for stricter laws on hunting for meat, fur, animal hides and feathers. These types of societies and organizations also fought for bans on sport hunting.

Wildlife conservation likely dates back before recorded history with indigenous peoples employing sustainable living practices. In the United States, federal government efforts reached a climax with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.

Now let’s talk about animal sanctuaries.

4. What are animal sanctuaries?

Animal sanctuaries are facilities or areas that protect animals that have been rescued and the animals live in a more natural and comfortable environment.

5. Are animal sanctuaries ethical?

If an animal sanctuary is motivated by profit, then it’s safe to say those types of sanctuaries aren’t ethical. Animal sanctuaries shouldn’t be motivated by profit. Unfortunately, some animal rescues and sanctuaries can be tourist traps, and the animals aren’t necessarily rescued or treated humanely. They might even be bred there.  With a bit of research, you can tell whether a sanctuary is ethical. You can look into how the animals are housed, acquired, cared for, or if a facility is accredited or regulated.

6. Are animal sanctuaries better than zoos?

The biggest difference between a zoo and sanctuary is that a sanctuary is where animals are rescued rather than bred. Unlike zoos, animals aren’t kept in small enclosures, but have larger areas to roam. While you may think all zoos are unethical, both zoos and wildlife sanctuaries spread awareness about wildlife and educate the public about animals.

7. How can I help?

Taking care of the world’s wildlife is everyone’s responsibility. Think about your your consumption habits. Think about reducing your plastic use, and recycle. Or maybe join an environmental project. Research a cause that inspires you. Maybe you like sea turtles and want to raise awareness or do a fundraiser.

Check out the following programs:

About the Author

Janette Daneshmand

Social Media Manager

Janette Daneshmand was born and raised in Southern California, a stone’s throw away from the original Disneyland. Janette spent an unforgettable summer in western Europe and Florence on a study abroad program during her time at Cal State Fullerton. In 2016 she moved to Manchester and worked for a craft magazine publisher as a professional crafter and later at a marketing agency that specializes in life science and biotech businesses as a social media manager. She connected deeply with Rustic's mission of philanthropy, travel, and training students to build the skills they need to create impact.