Areas providing habitat for many plants and animals are being destroyed to provide land for one species--people--in many places of the world. When making decision about land use, some people say that human needs should come before animal needs in every case. However, I tend to agree that humans have a special responsibility to protect the land that endangered animals call home.
Plants and animals often become endangered when their habitat is destroyed. People cause most habitat destruction. We destroy the homes of other species when we clear land for roads, shopping centers and business offices; canalize rivers for the ease of boat transportation; and drain wetlands for agriculture.
One of the important reasons to protect the habitat is that the delicate ecological balance of the area might be harmed by the extinction of endangered animals. For instance, several species of mussels living in Alabama Rivers depend on algae for food. When the state built dams to generate electricity, the rivers overflowed to form lakes, which flooded the mussels' algae supply. Now some of the mussels are endangered. That threatens other species in the ecosystem--the birds that eat mussels. Each species depends on others for survival. If one piece of the puzzle is missing, the whole ecosystem could fall apart.
In addition, after adapting for thousands or even millions of years to fit a constantly changing environment, every creature has an intrinsic value. One example is in the field of medicine. By observing a particular species of endangered monkeys in South America, scientists have discovered that monkeys eat a certain kind of plant when they get sick. Through research the scientists discovered that this plant also has medicinal value for humans. If the monkey’s habitat had been destroyed to create more farmland, not only would we lose the plants and the monkeys, we would also lose life-saving medicines and the potential for medical research.