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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Wildlife Defenders

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  • Learn about the challenges that wildlife preservationists face
  • Prepare a speech with recommendations to save endangered species
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the challenges that wildlife preservationists face in protecting wildlife from the adverse effects of human actions.

Planet in Peril: Battle Lines airs on Thursday, December 11, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN, hosted by Anderson Cooper, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" correspondent and National Geographic host Lisa Ling. CNN's award-winning series examines the environmental conflicts between growing populations and natural resources.

Teachers: Planet in Peril: Battle Lines depicts environmental struggles in the real world. The scenes and accounts presented may not be appropriate for all students. Please determine whether this content is appropriate for your students.

After viewing CNN's Planet in Peril: Battle Lines, have each student select one of the following individuals profiled in the documentary:

  • Nathan Wolfe
  • Peter Knight
  • Mike Rutzen
  • Allison Kok
  • Mike Fay
  • Digirinana Francois
  • Veronica Vecellio
  • Direct students to research and answer the following questions for their chosen wildlife defenders:

    1. What species is the individual trying to protect?
    2. How would you describe the species' habitat?
    3. Based on the information in the program, what is the individual's background in this field?
    4. What do you think motivates this individual to defend this particular species?
    5. What challenges does this wildlife defender face in his or her endeavors?
    6. What are some of his or her successes, if any?

    Have students present their findings to the class. Next, ask students to assume the roles of wildlife defenders and pose this scenario: You have been asked to testify before a special United Nations committee on wildlife protection. Choose a species that is under attack from human encroachment, poaching or another action. Based on your own research and class discussion, prepare a brief speech, approximately 2-3 minutes in length, stating what you recommend to save the species, and the potential consequences if the species is not protected. Present your speech to the class.

    Correlated Standards

    Content Standard C: Life Science

    Students in grades 5-8 should develop an understanding of:

    • Populations and ecosystems

    • Diversity and adaptations of organisms

    Students in grades 9-12 should develop an understanding of:

    • Interdependence of organisms

    • Behavior of organisms

    The National Science Education Standards are published by the National Academies Press.

    Social Studies
    Standard III. People, Places and Environments: Students will make informed and critical decisions about the relationship between human beings and their environment.

    The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies are published by the National Council for Social Studies.

    Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students:

    a. identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.

    b. plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.

    c. collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.

    d. use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

    The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Students ( ) are published by the International Society for Technology in Education (

    endangered species, Planet in Peril, environment, ecology, activism

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