Of all the creatures on the Earth, we are quite sure that sloths are the most amazing. It’s very important to us that these creatures are protected and able to continue to flourish in the natural habitats. We have previously detailed some of the threats facing sloths, but how can I help protect sloths?
We have for your a list of 7 things you can do to help sloths and protect their species and habitat.
You can support charities, change your habits, and further pursue your interests in sloths as ways to save our favorite furry forest fellows. Please take a moment to read about each of the opportunities to help sloths that we have listed below. There is no doubt that you will find a way that you can start taking action today to help our child-out rainforest friends.
1. Support these sloth-centered organizations
The Sloth Conservation Foundation, called SloCo for short, was established by a sloth researcher named Dr. Rebecca Cliff in 2016. SloCo focuses on the protection of sloths as well as the habitats in which they live. Dr Cliffe’s and her organization seek to increase awareness of sloths.
They do this though research programs, educational initiatives, and creating a database about sloths for other groups to accesa, SloCo has implemented solutions to some of threats faced by sloths, such as creating safe crossing spots for them in areas where humans are encroaching in their habitat.
You can participate in The Sloth Conservation Foundation’s efforts by:
- Donating and/or raising funds
- Adopting a sloth (more about this later)
- Sharing education materials
- Providing SloCo with some of the tools they need for their work.
- Purchasing tracts of sloth habitat for preservation
The Sloth Institute is run by Sam Trull and Seda Sejud and is based in Costa RIca. They have three similar focuses: research, education, and conservation. Likewise, you can assist The Sloth Institute in some very similar ways:
- Sloth adoption
- Purchisng TSI items from their wish list
- Volunteer in COSTA RICA
- And more, check their website!
Please take the time to learn more about these organizations on their respective websites and at the very least provide them with a small financial contribution. We’ll share more information about some of the specific opportunities they offer (sloth adoption!) later in this article.
Do you know of any other organizations that specialize in saving sloths? Let us know!
2. Stop Sloth Poaching
Thankfully, in many places, sloths are protected species. That means that hunters and trappers cannot kill sloths or otherwise take them out of their natural habitat. Unfortunately we know that not everyone follows the rules. The rule-breakers in the case are known as poachers.
While protected animals like elephants and tigers are hunted so their bodies can be harvested (the tusks of elephants and the skin of tigers are valuable on the black market). Poachers generally seek to capture sloths alive.
These activities are always driven by money. What is the value of a sloth? Well, zoos (public and private) know that a lot of us will pay good money to see, feed, and even hold sloths. This is a big incentive to have sloths at their zoos. We talked about the shadiness involved in purchasing a sloth in our article about owning a sloth.
So, as excited as you may be to see a sloth at a local exhibit, you should be careful to seek to understand how that establishment obtained their sloths. In a 2013 incident, the Dallas World Aquarium was stopped from exporting several captured pygmy sloths (the species in highest danger). While the DWA claims they wanted to protect the species, they had not consulted with any wildlife organization about their plan. They were eventually forced to return the sloths, but sadly one lost its life while in captivity.
An organization we promote based on their reputation for promoting animal welfare and protecting species is Safari Edventure. They offer an up-close experience with their sloths, as well as many other animals. The animals at Safari Edventure are rescues, meaning they were previously held by a zoo or private owner, or have been rescued after injuries in the wild.
Although you would love to visit a local zoo to see a real life sloth, please make sure that the institution holding the sloths is not promoting poaching.
3. Support these wildlife protection foundations
The World Wildlife Foundation is one of the most prominent organizations seeking to protect our animal friends of all kinds. For over 60 years the WWF (not the WWE) has carried out thousands of programs to protect endangered species.. One of the ways they are doing that is by also offering an option to adopt a sloth., which, as promised, we’ll detail more later!
The WWF has also carried out other initiatives specifically, according to their website:
“WWF works with communities, governments and companies to encourage sustainable forestry. WWF created the Global Forest & Trade Network to create a market for environmentally responsible forest products. The network works at national and regional levels to expand the area of forests under responsible management. And since 2003, WWF has been working with the Brazilian government on the Amazon Region Protected Areas initiative (ARPA) to protect rainforest. ARPA has become the largest conservation project in the world.”
We’ll share more about protecting the sloth’s habitat in another section of this article. Please become familiar with the WWF and consider donating to their cause.
Kids Saving the Rainforest is exactly what it sounds like young people working to preserve our world’s tropical forests and the animals that live there. While they work with a variety of different animals, specifically with sloths they rescue baby sloths who have lost their parents. The kids nurse the babies to health and teach them to survive in their natural habitat, before reintroducing them back to the wild once they are adults.
You can of course be a part of this program by sponsoring the baby sloths. Kids Saving the Rainforest has an extensive description of this process on their webpage.
4. Spread awareness about sloths
As a sloth lover you probably have friends who share the same love for our furry forest hanger-ons. Are you in groups on social media where people share adorable pictures of sloths and similar posts? Do you see a lot of information about the plights that our favorite animals are facing? We don’t see enough of that type of posts, and even if you see some, it’s certainly not enough.
While you don’t want to bring people down, there are plenty of positive ways to highlight the need for action, and positive ways to take action (which we hope you are finding in this article today).
Likewise, we are sure you have friends that ask you: “why are you so obsessed with sloths?” That can be an interesting conversation to have, and part of that conversation should emphasize the need to protect these adorable guys from poachers and to ensure that their habitats are not destroyed in the name of economic progress.
Are you a teacher? (For some reason lots of sloth fans happen to be teachers). SloCo offers some good educational activities for young children (preschool and elementary) through their website in exchange for $10 donations to their foundation. You can order those here.
We hope the material on our site has taught you new things about your favorite animal. If you didn’t know these things, it’s probably true that your friends, fellow sloth lovers or otherwise, don’t know about the unique situation sloths are in. So, please, tell them.
5. Support these organizations that protect the rainforest
So, we have shared with you organizations dedicated to sloths, and others dedicated to saving sloths and many other species around the world. The main issue, though, is the loss of the sloth’s habitat, which is the rainforest.
Saving the rainforest protects our furry buddies, but also helps ensure the survival of our own species since forests like the Amazon produce most of the oxygen we breath.
GlobalCitizen.org has produced a list of 7 organization doing the most extensive and effective efforts to save tropical rainforests:
1. Amazon Watch
Amazon Watch fights the destruction of the Amazon, supports Indigenous rights, and finds climate justice solutions.
It also happens to be Lil Nas X’s charity of choice for saving the Amazon.
Amazon Conservation Team works hand-in-hand with Indigenous leaders to ensure the long-term welfare of the Amazon Rainforest.
Amazon Conservation Association has trained hundreds of conservationists who work to support the restoration of the Amazon Rainforest and sustainable Indigenous-led economies. The organization has planted more than 275,000 trees to date.
There is no protecting the Amazon without Indigenous communities leading the way. Survival International recognizes this imperative and works to amplify the voices of Indigenous leaders.
The International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs focuses on protecting Indigenous cultures, which always includes an environment-first approach.
The Rainforest Action Network “preserves forests, protects the climate, and upholds human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns.”
The Rainforest Trust has saved more than 23 million acres of the Amazon Rainforest since 1988 by funding projects that restore and protect ecosystems.
Stop consuming these products
When we make purchases we need to be conscientious of the environmental impact. Do you avoid plastic straws because of the impact you have seen documents about plastic floating in the sea? Do you try to buy environmentally-friendly products? We hope you do, but sometimes this is hard. A lot of products have a bigger impact than we consider. Here are the main products whose consumption is causing the destruction of the sloth’s habitat.
Here is a list of products that you should stop consuming (or change your consumption habits):
Over two-thirds of Amazon deforestation is due to cattle production. Ranchers chop down and burn millions of acres to provide pastures for their herds. Americans continue to eat more and more meat, and as places like China become affluent and copy American consumption habits, the demand for beef is rising.
ii) Wood and paper products
Do you have beautiful hardwood floors in your home? Or wooden furniture? What about an amazing electric guitar? Chances are that wood was harvested in the rainforest, and unfortunately it probably wasn’t done in a sustainable way. Oftentimes many other trees are destroyed just so timber companies can access the ones they want.
Do you ever use toilet paper? (We hope you do!) This and other paper products are still produced by virgin pulp, that is the product of trees cut down in the forest rather than recycled products. This also leads to deforestation worldwide, including in the tropical rainforest where sloths live.
Again money is a big issue. Governments often own large natural forests and they stand to make a lot of money by selling the rights to harvest timber to large companies, who profit from selling such an in-demand product. While laws exist in many places requiring timber companies to maintain practices that avoid unneeded damage to forests and wildlife, since the government’s stand to profit directly from any logging done on the forests they control, the temptation not to enforce the law is immense.
Something tells me that the same people who love sloths tend to be the type of people who go crazy for chocolate.
7. Adopt a sloth
Adopting a sloth is a popular way to try to protect the species. Beyond the organizations we already discussed, The World Wildlife Foundation has worked for more than half a century to protect animals all around the world. One of the ways they are doing that is by also offering an option to adopt a sloth.
Of course there are many more wonderful organizations working to save wild species. If you know of any others with initiatives focused on sloths, please let us know.