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 Director of Storytelling & Marketing for Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is pursuing a Master's of Science in Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including 10+ years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking organizations, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces including Greens REALIGN. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to transform hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.