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Lesson Plan: Endangered species

May 3, 2000
Web posted at: 11:40 p.m. EST (0340 GMT)


  • Students will realize the importance of maintaining wildlife on earth.
  • Students will understand the economic and political aspects of maintaining wildlife.

National Science Education Standards

  • Content Standard C: As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of : Interdependence of organisms
  • Human beings live within the world's ecosystems. Increasingly, humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversibly affected.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that:

  • Human beings are part of the earth's ecosystems. Human activities can, deliberately or inadvertently, alter the equilibrium in ecosystems.


CNNfyi article, "Wild Kingdom safer for some"

Suggested time

One to two 45-50 minute class periods.


1. Lead students through the follwoign visualization exercise: Close your eyes and picture your favorite animal in its natural environment. Now imagine the environment without that animal. Does there seem to be an emptiness to the scene? How would you feel if the only way anybody could view that animal would be in video or picture form?

2. Have students read the CNNfyi article: Endangered species

3. For review, ask students to answer the following questions:

  • List the animals that were discussed regarding their protection status.
  • What east African country did not want the elephant ban lifted?
  • What Asian country would benefit economically if the ban on endangered/protected animals/species were lifted?
  • What compromises were reached regarding various endangered animals?
4. Divide the class into groups to simulate the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Have each group represent one of the countries or organizations at the conference: Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Japan, Norway, Cuba, the United States and GreenPeace International. Have them research their country's position on lifting the ban on one or more of the following: elephants, whale sharks, basking sharks and great white sharks and hawksbill turtle shells.


1. Allow time for each group to present their positions. Encourage students to use electronic and/or print pictures and graphs in their presentations. After each group has given its position, allow class discussion. Factors to include in the discussion include the following: how quality of life would be lessened if some species of animals disappeared, economic advantages and/or disadvantages of lifting the ban on elephants, effects on countries whose economy depends on ecotourism.

2. At the end of the discussion have students write a position paper on each topic discussed. Where compromise does not seem to be an option, students can write a minority report for their country.

About Botswana Forest conservation
Greenpeace overview
Japan information
Wildlife in Kenya
Norway News
South Africa
Environmental conservation
Elephant poaching

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