On Endangered Species Day and Every Day, We Must Act


The Endangered Species Act is an essential piece of legislation. Passed by Congress in 1973, the ESA protects 1,600 native plants and animals, and up to 2,300 of total species globally (FWS). 99% of the species listed under the Act are on a steady road to recovery from previous threats of extinction. The ESA has saved the lives of many creatures – including 85% of our nation’s birds, the black-footed ferret, the gray wolf, the steller sea lion, the grizzly bear, and many others. Today, it is under threat.

We, as humans, are fortunate to share the Earth with such a magnificent diversity of life forms, but Earth’s biodiversity is dwindling at an alarming rate. In just over 100 years, the population of wild chimpanzees has dropped from an estimated one – two million (probably closer to two million), to as few as 350,000, many of them living in fragmented patches of forest with little hope of long term survival. This is only one example of the decline in the population of a species the same decline is evident in almost every species, of wild animals including many in the United States. Indeed, we are experiencing what science describes as “The Sixth Great Extinction.” A 2017 study found that of the 27,600 land-based mammals, birds, amphibians and reptile species studied, nearly one-third are shrinking in terms of their population numbers and territorial ranges (CNN). In the last 40 years, we have lost about half of all wild animal species on Earth. Further, the rate of extinction is happening at about 100 times faster than what would be expected from studies of the fossil record.

– Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace



The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Communications & Policy Officer at the Jane Goodall Institute, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is currently pursuing a MS in Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University. She has a varied background including conservation, art, communications, digital media, design, photography, and documentary filmmaking. Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to change hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she believes it is possible to ignite positive change, every day.