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How the Earth Works

Here on Earth, We're All Related

(2) How Do We Stop Extinction?

A Red Data Book is a book containing information on wild organisms that are at risk of becoming extinct. Red in this case indicates "Danger!" much like a red stop sign or a red card in sports.

To keep wildlife from going extinct, we have to protect the places where they live, and if there are only few of them left, try to increase their numbers.

Zoos, botanical gardens, and research organizations study and conduct experiments to learn how to artificially reproduce or breed plants and animals. There also many people who make a strong personal commitment to protecting and conserving threatened species.

Many countries have laws to protect the plants and animals that live there. But in some countries, especially poor ones, poachers try to make money by hunting animals that are threatened, even if it means breaking the law. For example, rhinoceros and deer horns sell for large amounts of money because they're used in medicine, while lion and tiger skins also fetch a high price because of their beautiful patterns. Many people in the world (especially in rich countries) will pay a great deal of money simply because something is rare.

In response, countries around the world created a set of rules called the Washington Convention to keep wild animals from being taken and sold to other countries. This treaty makes it illegal to buy and sell certain plants and animals. If you have the chance to travel abroad, make sure the souvenirs you buy obey this treaty. Only when everyone follows the rules can we prevent the extinction of plants and animals.

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