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Environment

Manatees are no longer endangered! Proof you can change the world

Manatees are beautiful, ridiculous animals. They float, they munch, they play and they delight anyone lucky enough to see them in person--or if not in person, then in videos like the one above. For years, these amazing creatures were threatened by increased boating and development around their habitats. But now the US government is proposing to move these fantastic beasts from “endangered” to the improved status of “threatened.”

This classification change is a significant step forward for the lovable “sea cow.” They were one of the first animals added to the US endangered species list after the act passed in Congress in 1972. And in 1991, US government officials estimated the population off the coast of the state of Florida to be around 1,267. Today, that population is estimated to be 6,300, a massive 500% increase.

"The manatee's recovery is incredibly encouraging and a great testament to the conservation actions of many," Said Cindy Dohner, the Southeast regional director of The US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This step forward shows that conservation efforts can have impact. Increasing the manatee population has been a collective effort of local residents, conservation groups and government regulation. But it is only a first step.

A population of 6,300 manatees is still perilously low. Further, the movement from endangered status to “threatened” will mean local development groups will be able to remove some local regulations. Chief among these will be slow speed zones for boats, who historically killed many manatees by moving too quickly for the lumbering sea beasts to get out of the way. Already Florida lawmakers, Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Larry Ahern, have introduced legislation to study the effectiveness of boating speed zones. And local county commissioner, Curtis Smith, is publicly for getting rid of them.

The success with Manatees is an important milestone. It shows, along with other species that have rebounded in the last few decades, that regulation and conservation can change the world.

Now it's up to committed global citizens to be vigilant to ensure that this progress is not reversed by a rush to lift regulations.

The future looks a bit brighter for Manatees, just as it is for every species that is brought back from the brink of extinction.

Collective action and good regulation helped save the Manatees. Similarly, collective action can help save humanity from extreme poverty.

Go to TAKE ACTION NOW and urge the United Kingdom to expand marine protection areas and bring back more animals from the brink of extinction.