Operation Endangered Species is a project that focuses on saving endangered species from extinction. Currently, we are focused on saving the Alligator Snapping Turtles. We do this by working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and 18 other high schools across Illinois. We buy the turtles as babies and give them to high schools to be taken care of. The students take care of the turtles until they are one year old, and then they release them into their habitat in southern Illinois. OES is also a way for teens and kids to be involved in a project that helps their community and environment. So far, our project has had almost a 100% success rate!
Why should we save the Alligator Snapping Turtles? The snapper turtles are a keystone species in their ecosystem. This means that without them, their ecosystem would collapse. They maintain their ecosystem in two ways. One, they burrow holes in the ground which other animals can use as habitats or means of protection. Second, the alligator snappers are generalists, meaning they will eat almost anything. This helps them keep the ecosystem's population under control
OES was started 8 years ago by a group of high school students from Pontiac Township High School. They saw the alligator snapper and thought, "Wow this is so ugly, who would ever want to save it?". So they decided to! They began to notice that most of the turtles began to die out before they reach one year of age. Considering the turtles do not develop reproductive properties until they are 18, this is a major problem. There are many factors that could contribute to this, including turtle poachers and environmental damages.
Operation Endangered Species is an impact project that could have a momentous impact on our environment.
For more information, please watch the video that my partner Nicole and I created:
Funded by Chicago, IL (May 2016)