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Many animal species are at risk of becoming extinct, or dying out. Although natural causes can be a factor, humans are largely responsible. Activities such as logging, farming, and construction have destroyed many animal habitats, and illegal hunting has only added to the problem. A group called the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) surveys different animal populations to determine if they are at risk.


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

critically endangered


level of conservation between "endangered" and "extinct in the wild."

endangered species


organism threatened with extinction.

Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species



no longer existing.



environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

Encyclopedic Entry: habitat



natural or manufactured substance used to kill organisms that threaten agriculture or are undesirable. Pesticides can be fungicides (which kill harmful fungi), insecticides (which kill harmful insects), herbicides (which kill harmful plants), or rodenticides (which kill harmful rodents.)



to hunt, trap, or fish illegally.


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Jessica Shea, National Geographic Society


Dr. Lucy Spelman

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