We personally aren’t responsible for the demise of the dodo, or falling numbers of pangolins or any of the thousands of creatures that are now on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) List.

All those creatures are on that list because experts started counting and cataloguing what is left on this planet, and found the news isn’t good. The List breaks them down into specific groups of extinction, or near extinction, monitors their numbers, and looks at the reasons they might become extinct.

Watch those wonderful Sir David Attenborough programmes on TV - a man now 97 and still passionate about what he does, prepared to trudge through deep snow to talk so engagingly to us about polar bears, or walk in the staggering heat of the desert to talk about lack of water and plants that are failing to provide shelter and nourishment to wildlife.

Preserving our Wildlife

Why is wildlife conservation so important? Essentially, it is to protect the different species by ensuring their survival, and to educate people about how they can live sustainably and in harmony with them.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to help wildlife is to preserve the environment in which the animals live. Volunteer organizations everywhere are trying to restore native forests, grasslands, and coastal ecosystems by planting native species, manually removing invasive plant species, etc., and it all costs money.

So what can we do? Firstly, the Animal Welfare Institute suggests we can stand up for wildlife at a very basic level. Educate ourselves, perhaps take more notice of our gardens to start with, by planting native species of flowers, trees, and bushes. This gives wild animals food, shelter, and a place to raise their young. Learn more about creating a wildlife habitat in your space - attract birds to your garden and learn which native plant species are best for your location. Attract pollinators, and learn which native plant species do best in your space. To help the endangered monarch butterflies survive for instance, plant milkweed, and learn which species of milkweed are native to your region, and find a milkweed supplier in your area. Reduce the amount of your lawn - they offer minimal food and shelter for wildlife. Many won’t like to do this but try replacing part of your lawn with beds of native plants and flowers instead. Or get crafty and buy or build your own birdhouse or bat house. Do not use pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers on your lawn or garden beds. These products are the leading cause of wildlife poisonings and are also toxic to your companion animals.

The options to help in such a small way are endless. Visit a national wildlife refuge, park, or other open space and learn about the threatened species and other animals who live there. Stay informed and support policies that keep these areas wild and protected.


One of the most basic things, so simple that has been made easy for us, is to reduce, reuse and recycle. Yes, I know, it takes a little time to get used to it, and probably a bit of effort is needed to wash out cans and plastics, split your rubbish into separate bags and take them down the road to where containers have been provided for you. The environmental benefits of recycling? It conserves energy, reduces air and water pollution, reduces greenhouse gases, and conserves natural resources. Without sounding like a radical campaigner, recycling reduces waste sent to landfills and incinerators, prevents pollution, conserves natural resources and conserves energy. Recycling also creates jobs, producing economic benefits. And although Portugal’s recycling rate has increased, in 2020 we were still at least a third from the bottom of the list compared to other countries in Europe.

Even turning off unwanted lights, and ensuring the things we buy are sustainable – including clothing – are small ways in which we can help. We need to start doing this now, not leaving it for the next generation to cope with.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan