Educating children about the earth's natural diversity is instrumental in helping protect and preserve the future of our environment's ecosystem. The rainforest is a very well known ecosystem that is currently being threatened by habitat loss and unfortunately, the rainforest contains over half of the earth's animal diversity. Thousands of species are currently on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which is a list of wildlife that are in danger of becoming extinct. Many of these endangered animals live in the rainforest, and if kids can learn about some of them, they may grow up to help prevent their disappearance from this earth.
Tropical rainforests are considered one of the richest ecosystems of the earth due to the number of animal species that live there, despite the fact that rainforests have been reduced to about 2 per cent of the earth's surface. There are five main regions of tropical rainforests. The largest region is the Amazon basin in South America, and the second largest is the Congo basin in Africa. Central America, Southern Asia and Australia also host rainforests. Each region has experienced extensive deforestation which in turn has caused a large decline in the inhabiting species.
Central and South America
Many of the endangered species found in the Amazon rainforest also reside in Central America. They include the Golden Lion Tamarin monkey, three-toed sloth, poison dart frog, Harpy eagle and the hyacinth macaw, which is one of a number of endangered parrots and toucans in the Amazon. Nine species of South American spider monkey are listed as threatened or endangered on the IUCN list, as well as the Jaguar, which is not only losing its habitat but is being hunted for its fur.
The African Congo is home to the critically endangered gorilla and orang-utan who have both lost about 80 per cent of their population due to habitat loss, disease (like the Ebola virus) or hunting. Chimpanzees, also found in the African rainforest, are larger in number than their ape relatives, but have also experienced a decline in numbers for the same reasons in addition to commercial trapping for trade. Off the coast of Africa is the island of Madagascar which houses about a hundred species of Lemur, all of which are on the IUCN list as vulnerable, threatened or endangered.
In Southern Asia, the Sumatran and Javan rhinos of Indonesia are among those species that are endangered. Perhaps the most commonly known endangered animal, the Bengal tiger, also resides here. There are six species of tiger left on the planet, and all are being hunted and poached illegally by humans. Currently there are only about 4,000 left on the earth.
Australia may not be known for its rainforests, but an area known as the "Wet Tropics" is located northeast of Queensland. Rarer and lesser known animals such as the little waterfall frog, red goshawk tropical bird, spotted-tailed quoll, and bare-rumped sheathtail bat live in the Australian rainforest and are listed as endangered.