Vol 7 Animals in Danger ... Introduction ... How many animals are there?
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How many animals are there?

There are over a million different animal species in the world!
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There are well over a million different animal species in the world, and some authorities put the number as high as two million. In some regions of the world, the numbers are more precise. There are around 850 species of mammal in North America, as well as 775 species of birds, 240 reptile species and 160 species of amphibian. It is sometimes tempting to think that we can ‘afford to miss’ a few species here and there.

If building a new road will destroy the habitat of a single bird species but will make the journey to work easier for thousands of commuters, then who should get priority? In many cases we make value judgements based on emotion rather than reasoned argument. If the threatened bird species were the magnificent Bald Eagle rather than the lowly San Clemente sage sparrow, fewer people might choose the road. But who is to say that a particular animal or plant is more important to our planet than another? We will look at the cases for and against conservation in the ‘Debates’ chapter of this NatureExplorer guide.