More than one million species are threatened with extinction, but plucky conservationists and their supporters have pulled several animals and plants back from the brink. Sure, we’re daily decimating the environment, destroying biodiversity by cutting down rainforest and polluting waters, but there is still hope! We just have to keep fighting, which for most of us means donating to the best charities supporting endangered species.
If you’re thinking about where to direct your charitable donations this year, take a look at our round-up of organizations making a difference. These charities are helping to protect bigger beasts like lions, tigers, and white rhinos, as well as tiny species of frogs, insects, and butterflies. Not to mention protecting endangered species of plants and other microorganisms. And they’re all vetted as robust and worthwhile charitable organizations by folks such as GiveWell, Charity Navigator, and The Life You Can Save.
Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife is a North American non-profit that works to protect wildlife and restore habitat through on-the-ground activities and legal avenues. The organization focuses mainly on policy and action in the USA but have also helped support action worldwide. For polar bears, manatees, wolves, panthers, and other larger species, this charity is a true lifeline.
Their current campaign focuses on ending “anti-wolf propaganda” in Montana and fighting a bevy of bills introduced by newly elected legislators that would allow the unrestricted killing of wolves in the state.
Jane Goodall Foundation
Jane Goodall is a renowned conservationist best know for her work with chimpanzees. The Jane Goodall Foundation is primarily focused on research into the health of forests and chimpanzee populations, with this research helping to inform governments and other wildlife protection agencies to enact policies that help these animals.
According to the charity’s website, the non-profit has: helped protect 1,490k+ acres of habitat and 5,000+ chimpanzees and gorillas living in these habitats; and has supported 130 communities worldwide including through nearly 5,000 projects led by young people through Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is one of Africa’s oldest wildlife charities and a leading conservation organization. They operate one of the most successful orphaned elephant rescue and rehabilitation projects in the world, having been founded in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick in memory of her late husband, the naturalist David Sheldrick.
The nonprofit focuses on caring for elephant and rhino orphans and helping reintegrated these animals back into the wild. The secondary focus is on anti-poaching and conservation efforts, so as to reduce the number of orphan animals needing help.
The (David) Sheldrick Wildlife Trust USA, a registered 501(c)(3) in the United States, meaning you can get a tax receipt for donations over a certain amount.
The World Wildlife Fund
One of the best-known animal charities, but no less worthy of mention, the World Wildlife Fund focuses on six main areas of action:
The WWF has been around for more than 60 years, working in nearly 100 countries as the world’s leading conservation organization. Their remit is to “protect communities, wildlife, and the places in which they live.” To do this, the WWF develops partnerships with communities, companies, and governments, has more than one million supporters in the United States and five million globally, and makes sure sustainability is factored into decisions at local, national, and international levels. So, whether you’re especially fond of giant pandas, elephants, sea turtles, whales, or any other species, the WWF is a great organization to donate to.
Love gorillas? Then Gorilla Doctors is the charity for you. This nonprofit is dedicated to saving the mountain and eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorilla species by providing hands-on medical care to ill and injured gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are only 1,004 mountain gorillas, and very few Grauer’s gorillas remaining, making them a seriously endangered species in need of help.
In addition to providing monitoring and veterinary care as needed, the Gorilla Doctors team also helps rescue and treat gorillas orphaned by poachers. The group also works with several other gorilla conservation organizations, especially the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) and is partnered with the University of California Davis Department of Anthropology.
Save the Elephants
If you’re fonder of elephants than gorillas, Save the Elephants is the charity of choice. This nonprofit has been around since 1993 when it was founded by Iain Douglas-Hamilton who is still with the organization as the President and CEO. STE is a UK-registered charity with headquarters in Nairobi and a local team running active research stations including the principal station in Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya. STE offers a wealth of data on the behavior and population dynamics of elephants over the last two decades or more, which helps inform anti-poaching and other conservation efforts, including landscaping planning that accounts for the health and safety of elephants.
They partner with a coalition of other wildlife advocacy groups as part of the Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF) and, according to STE: As of January 2021, the ECF has funded 90 partners conducting 321 projects in 40 countries across Africa and Asia, with 100% of funds raised reaching the field.
Project AWARE is nearing thirty years old and 28 years old and has the tagline “Where conservation meets adventure.” This is because this nonprofit has a global reach and a passionate community of scuba divers dedicated to protecting the oceans. The charity works to not only help drivers minimize their impact on the environment when diving but actually engage in conservation efforts. This means divers are encouraged to remove ocean trash such as plastic waste and report any anomalies they see, thereby helping conservation scientists.
Operating in 182 countries, Project AWARE estimates that participants have removed a staggering 1,016,946 items of debris!
Finally, though not focused on endangered species, Village Enterprise has arguably done more than most charities to help support wildlife and even help reduce the risk of future pandemics! Why? Because this organization identifies those living in extreme poverty in Kenya and Uganda and delivers a four-part program to build businesses. This not only leads to a significant and long-lasting increase in income, it also drastically reduces reliance on the hunting and selling of bushmeat.
In 2018 Village Enterprise partnered with the African Wildlife Foundation to reduce poverty and protect an endangered population of bonobos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project was so successful that the two nonprofits are in discussion over how to scale their partnership to other regions.
Do you have a favorite charity that supports endangered species? Let us know!