What does “threatened extinction” really mean? Its when an animal or plant species are very rare, one often hears that they are “endangered”, are on the “red list” or are “threatened with extinction”.

This means that there are only a few living specimens left of these species. When these few animals or plants die without offspring, the whole species disappears. This can happen, for example, if the last specimens die as a result of illness or accidents, if their habitat is completely destroyed or if they can no longer find food. If a species is extinct, it is no longer reversible.

It may also be that species no longer occur in a particular region, but that specimens still live in other areas. Then they say that the “population” in the region is extinct.

Sometimes the species also recover. Or animals and plants reappear in an area where they have not been seen for a long time.



Because they are extremely rare, some animals are on the so-called Red List. These are lists of animal and plant species that are threatened and could be extinct. There are several of these lists, in Hesse alone there are 26. Among them is a list for mammals, one for birds, one for snails and mussels, and even a list for water bugs.

They are compiled by professionals who are familiar with the species. The Red Lists are meant to be a warning and mean: “Attention, people need to take special care of these species!”

Depending on how rare a species is and how much it is threatened, it is categorized. The highest warning level is “threatened with extinction”. The second highest level is “highly endangered”, after that comes “endangered” and a few other categories where experts could see how the species is doing.


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Why is it bad when species are extinct?

Unfortunately, many species are endangered. Thousands of species die out every year around the world. In Germany, more than a third of all animal species are endangered and more than a quarter of plant species.

Every single species is important in the Nature, because the species depend on each other in many ways. Some butterflies, for example, need the flowers of very specific flowers. They feed on their nectar. When the flowers are missing, the butterflies disappear.

Conversely, many plants need the insects that fly from flower to flower and pollinate them. Some plants can only reproduce in this way or bear fruit.



Because animal and plant species and their habitats are interdependent, it is important to improve the diversity of Nature overall. It is also used as a Biodiversity Or Biodiversity Referred. As animal and plant species become increasingly rare, it is usually due to humans. The most important protection for endangered species is therefore to reduce harmful human influences. One of these influences is, for example, that more and more roads and buildings are being built and that fields and pastures are being used by agriculture. Thus habitats are lost or they are cut by roads and settlements. Pollutants in air and water and the Climate change damage many species and habitats.

One of the most important ways of protecting species is the establishment of protected areas. Entire habitats are protected. There are different types of protected areas.

Nature reserves are particularly well known. It is strictly forbidden, which can damage or destroy the natural habitat. Most of the time you can visit nature reserves and hike or observe animals, for example – you can’t leave the trails! In some nature reserves, land or forest is managed, but only in exceptional cases.

Stricter rules apply in national parks such as the National park Kellerwald-Edersee. They should develop as unaffected as possible by humans. Agriculture and forestry are not allowed there. And there are areas that people should not enter at all.