The One Million … From the Poet Who Dedicates His Work to the World’s Most Endangered Animals

5 mins

Anthony E. Lovell is an endangered wildlife poet raising awareness of the one million species at risk of extinction. He shares some of his work with The Ethicalist for National Poetry Day, October 6th

Anthony E Lovell is a prolific poet who dedicates his writing to supporting the conservation of endangered species, the protection and regeneration of biodiversity, and on how humans can shape the future for better or for worse.

A 2019 United Nations-backed report found that one million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction, many within decades, due to human related activity. The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20 per cent, and all mostly since 1900. Without drastic action now to protect habitats, the rate of species decline – which is currently faster than ever before in human history – will lead to the global extinction of many of the world’s most loved animals.

For National Poetry Day on Oct 6th this year, Anthony shared with The Ethicalist his story in verse on those one million animals on the brink of extinction.

The One Million

My passion is wildlife

My compulsion to write

About endangered species

Even more so, those critically

Those on the way over the edge

Or already over, clinging on

I write to collect the strands

To weave into a rope

A very big rope, super strong

A rescue rope

Nothing less is needed

A rescue mission must be mounted

(Admittedly, ‘Slightly Mad’ I take this on)

Many hands make life work

Gather all the resources

Bring the fading back to life, brilliantly

But there are many, so very many

Not just those unfortunates

On the Critically Endangered List

Not just the hundreds

On the IUCN Red list

(That’s a life’s work

For an endangered species poet)

There are more, so very many more

Dr Evil’s ‘One Million Dollars!’

He wasn’t so out of date

‘One million’ is a hell of a lot

When it comes to possible extinctions

One Million Species under threat

It will take millions, even billions

To turn things back

Humans pledging to act

Using words, minds and wallets

Changing habits, choosing kind

To enact a threat reversal

No ransom to be paid

It is an investment in a future

To clear us of historic blame

Where our descendants will also get to see

All the current birds in the sky

All the insects, bees and butterflies

All the animals on the land, and underground

All the life in the rivers, lakes and seas

On the polar ice and volcanic vents, undersea

From the stratosphere to the deepest trench

All niches occupied by life prolific

So many, so very, very wonderful many

Not missing any one, let alone one million

This is not the work of any one, but millions

Not even millions as already seen

It’s a worldwide endeavour

A place for everyone to make their mark

One thing alone, in all these hearts

Has the power to achieve the great turning

Recognition of the sanctity of life

Enshrined in our most sacred place

Our hearts to rule or minds

Then to see that Earth is life’s only sanctuary

‘For all we know, in the cold universe’

Sanctuary Earth will then be gazetted


And we its custodians and keepers

Its rangers and protectors

Sentinels overwatching

#sacrosanct will reign

In our (greater than) sanctuary


It doesn’t end there

Because as yet it hasn’t started

Here and now must become nowafter

Now is the time, already escaping

We have to set out, hot pursuit

Overtake and regain the advantage

How shall we outrun time

Run it down?

Add your one to another’s

And another’s – collectively

Join and recruit, cross over


In this history unfolding

We don’t want to be caught


Join the community of animal lovers

Nature lovers, life affirmers

Receive the names and the stories

That long list of the endangered

Keep the species top of mind

And at the heart of what matters

That’s my job to keep it coming

Going all out full time

Spread the word, get weaving

Anchor the handmade rescue rope

While those at the front

Throw the lifeline

The rest to pull them back, in unison

One by one if necessary

‘Hold onto hope as you would a rescue rope’

This is the ‘Endgame’ that is no game

But if we don’t play our part

For so many it will end

So very many

Hope might seem besieged

But a world community can keep it burning

Spread the flame, inflame the passions

Which is where all this begins

And where this poem began

Full circle  – never ends

Now to complete the circle of life

Keep it preserved to keep rolling

Ecocycling into the future

As the Earth keeps turning

If the Earth was an Ark

As well as a sanctuary

It would be calling

‘All aboard’ likeminders

Fellow travellers: lifesharers


This is what I do

And this is how, in verse

But I can’t even get to the bottom

Of my shortlist

Unless we cut the list

In half, then in half, and keep going

Until there is only a short list

That’s the passionate goal

This is what we will do…

Javan rhino
The Javan Rhino

Amur Leopard

The Tapanuli Orangutan

The African Forest Elephant

The Sunda Island Tiger

Mountain Gorilla
The Mountain Gorilla

hawksbill turtle surrounded by fish
Hawksbill Turtle


Humpback Whales

To learn more about the work of Anthony E Lovell, please visit his website here

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