Here are some animals holding extinction at bay by the thinnest of threads on Endangered Species Day.
Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis)
Listed as one of the rarest large animals on earth by the Saola Working Group, this ungulate inhabits the mountains of Laos and Vietnam. As the primary threats to the saola’s existence, the Group, which endeavors to keep the species extant, also maintains that with proper care, its demise can be halted. Only 14 animals could disappear in your lifetime, including the Saola.
Cuban snail (Polymita picta)
In 2012, these large, vibrantly colored, and multi-colored land snails were listed as endangered due to poaching for jewelry. Hermaphrodites use their shells to attract mates, as their eyes literally pop out of long stalks on their heads. It would be great if snails’ razor-sharp teeth could be used as weapons against humans.
Northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita)
This large bird is considered the rarest in the Middle East by BirdLife. Currently, there are only 100 pairs left in Morocco, and only two pairs remain in Syria, which is a significant improvement since the bird was presumed extinct until 2002. In 2004, their breeding area was protected, and regional governments and NGOs have stepped in to work on preserving the Syrian population. However, desertification is the primary cause of its demise, although there are attempts to reverse this trend. These 27 “facts” about animals are all wrong.
Ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora)
The world’s most endangered tortoise is predicted to go extinct within the next ten years with fewer than a few hundred remaining in the wild. Fortunately, efforts have ramped up to save it. In order to halt poaching and reclaim animals from illegal collections and place them in breeding programs, the Turtle Conservancy and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust work with local communities. Some species of turtles are among the longest living animals on earth.
Greater bamboo lemur (Hapalemur simus)
The population of this five-pound primate with white ear tufts is down to fewer than 500 individuals elsewhere in Madagascar. Because it eats bamboo exclusively, like the panda, it has been extremely vulnerable to deforestation and destruction of the rainforest in which it forages, as well as aggressive hunting. A number of organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), are working to protect its habitat and discourage locals from hunting it.
Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)
Poaching for sale as pets and habitat loss are the main reasons why these brightly colored birds are disappearing from their native Central American mountains. According to National Geographic, feathers were once sacred to Maya and Aztec people, whose royalty and priests wore them during ceremonies. Their popularity among eco-birders may help elevate their status locally and ultimately help preserve them. Below are the strangest animals found in each state in the U.S.
Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)
It is the smallest of all rhino species (3-1/2 feet tall and weighing a mere one ton), and the only one with two horns. Like most of its cousins, it is critically endangered. In Western and Eastern Sumatra, two subspecies are barely surviving, while a third has vanished, according to WWF. All rhino species will benefit from Sumatran Rhino Rescue’s efforts to retrieve the 80 remaining, struggling rhinos from the wild and bring them to sanctuaries where they can be protected from poaching and bred.
Bearcat (Arctictis binturong)
Their homes are in trees in south and southeast Asia, where they are nocturnal, slow-moving, fruit-eating carnivores. The San Diego Zoo lists them as vulnerable in some areas, and endangered in others, due to poaching for the pet and traditional medicine trades, as well as for food. In order to ensure the survival of the Bearcat, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has developed a Species Survival Plan. Whenever scientists discover a new species, they name it in this way.
Angel shark (Squatina squatina)
The angel shark, once widespread in the northeast Atlantic, Mediterranean, and elsewhere, has seen its population decline precipitously over the past 50 years. The fact that it is easily caught up as bycatch in fishing nets, along with its low breeding rates, bode poorly for its survival, especially in the last 15 years, during which it went from vulnerable to critically endangered. We have action recovery plans in place and regional management plans in place, so hopefully this trend can be reversed soon.
Golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus)
Golden-rumped elephant shrews of Kenya are considered the most endangered of four elephant shrew species. It is estimated that there are around 13,000 of these small mammals left in the wild, which are predominantly found in coastal forests, which themselves are highly endangered due to development. The population of these animals is neither monitored nor protected at present.
Peacock tarantula (Poecilotheria metallica)
This is the only blue species in its genus, and it’s also actively collected for the pet market due to war, civil unrest, and military exercises in western India. No one knows how many of these spiders remain in the wild (although the number is presumed to be low). Research, assessment, and a whole slew of conservation measures are needed to ensure the Peacock tarantula’s survival, according to the IUCN Red List entry for the species. After learning about 14 of nature’s most intricate spider webs, you’ll gain a new respect for them.
Rusty-patched Bumblebee (Bombus affinis)
With 90 percent of its population depleted, this once widespread bumblebee species became endangered in 2017 after being on the verge of extinction for years. National Geographic reported that it was the first American bumblebee to receive federal protection. It joined seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees. Here are five plants you can plant right now in your own garden to keep bees buzzing
Dama gazelle (Nanger dama)
There are approximately 100 individuals of this small African antelope left in the wild as populations of Saharan grasslands are fragmented and struggling to find enough food to survive. A number of zoos are working with the Sahara Conservation Fund to protect this large gazelle in Chad, Niger, and Mali, while running breeding programs to reintroduce it into the wild.
There are eight species in the wild – four in Asia and four in Africa – two of which are critically endangered, and the rest are at least vulnerable. They are highly prized for their scales, and are some of the most trafficked animals in the world. According to the WWF, all of them are currently protected by international law.
Diana monkey (Cercopithecus diana)
There is a decline in populations of these striking black and white primates in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and “severe” fragmentation in its once abundant forests, according to the IUCN Red List. Roloway monkeys (Cercopithecus diana roloway) are critically endangered due to civil unrest, logging, and hunting in Ghana/Côte d’Ivoire.
Cuban rock iguana (Cyclura nubila)
While related rock iguana species are threatened around the globe, this five-foot, 15-pound iguana native to Cuba has not reached that status yet. The loss of habitat and predation by dogs, cats, and feral pigs, however, are creating a hostile environment that may lead to a population decline in the near future. There is a rock iguana breeding program at the San Diego Zoo that is renowned. Here are 12 things you didn’t know lizards could do.
California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)
A large number of bullets contain lead, which remains in the carcasses these cliff-nesting vultures feed on and poisons them. This led to the near-extinction of America’s largest bird. It has been brought back from the brink through numerous efforts; lead ammunition is now illegal in California, for instance. The number of wild condors in the world has grown from 25 in 1975 to more than 500 in 2019. These 15 other species are also on the verge of extinction, despite grim conservation news.
Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii)
Primate habitats are being destroyed at an accelerating rate, making it a tough time for primates. A little over 14,000 subtropical orangutans remain in the remaining Sumatra’s forests (most of which have been destroyed by fire and converted to palm oil plantations), and there are only nine populations left in the world. There is another threat to their viability in the form of plans for a big new road; The WWF is working with companies and governments to preserve what remains of the forest.
Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)
It is considered one of the rarest birds in the world by the Philippine Eagle Foundation, with populations remaining on only four of the country’s 7,000 islands. In the wild, there are 180 to 500 birds, and because they require as many as 11,000 hectares of forest to hunt-forest that is rapidly disappearing-it is difficult to preserve them.
Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)
Due to hunting and the destruction of its freshwater habitats, this one-ton top predator has seen its population decline by 98 percent over the past century. It used to be abundant from Pakistan to Myanmar less than 100 years ago. There are several programs in place to study conservation methods and to work with local community groups in areas where crocodiles still exist in low numbers (India and Nepal).
Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)
In spite of all the efforts Dian Fossey and others have made over the years, the mountain gorilla of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda is critically endangered. As a result of recent conservation efforts, some strides have been made toward preserving populations, according to the WWF. Will they be enough to ensure its survival? 124 individuals have been added to one population since 2010, for a total of over 1,000, so slow progress is being made. Here are the various types of monkeys in the world, in case you were wondering.
Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni)
Approximately 200 of these cats remain in the Malay Peninsula in southern Thailand, where they are found only once on Earth. Chinese authorities recently reverted a ban on the use of tiger bone, which had traditionally been used for certain medicines; the WWF called the move “a huge setback for wildlife conservation.” Another: Tigers are often killed by Malayan villagers protecting their livestock; however, WWF is focusing its efforts in this area and may see good results.
African wild dog (Lycaon Pictus)
The number of these fast-running, critically endangered hunters in African deserts and grasslands has plummeted to about 3,000 by most recent estimate. As with Malayan tigers, standoffs with livestock farmers have harmed their populations, as have diseases like rabies and distemper. Furthermore, their habitat is rapidly disappearing; conservation efforts are aimed at connecting wildlife corridors with game preserves.
Black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes)
Thanks to decades of conservation efforts (especially among tribal groups), this once extinct denizen of the Northern Great Plains of the United States has been given “a second chance for survival.” However, with numbers hovering around 350, it might not be the right time to celebrate. Especially since North America’s only native ferret species is also rapidly vanishing. Are you looking for more photos of America’s beauty? You’ll be blown away by these stunning photographs of America’s national parks.
Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus)
A large contributor to their decline has been Asia’s sushi demand. Bluefin tuna have been fished to near extinction as a result of their own deliciousness. A decline in numbers has led to an increase in inflated prices, which has led to an increase in illegal fishing practices that have decimated their stocks. Conservation efforts for these swift-swimming predator fish have been difficult due to this. Here are 14 endangered wild animals you didn’t know existed.
Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica)
This ancient aquatic mammal lives in India and Nepal’s severely degraded river systems but is endangered due to chemical dumping, hunting, and starvation. As well as monitoring its populations, analyzing their threats, and working with local communities, the WWF promotes better conservation practices. Here are 13 places where you can see dolphins in the wild.
Borneo pygmy elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis)
With a population of just 1,500, they are the smallest elephants in Asia. Conservation organizations hope that China’s ivory ban will significantly reduce poaching of these and all elephants, although it cannot minimize threats from palm oil plantations throughout the region. In order to increase the wildlife corridors these intelligent and beloved animals rely on for foraging, efforts are underway.
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
One of the most iconic animals in the world, it suffers from warming oceans clogged with plastic and other pollution, and declining food sources due to climate change. Due to the active and vocal pro-whale community, efforts are being made to preserve the tens of thousands of blue whales estimated to still be swimming in our global waters. There are 23 largest living animals on earth, including the blue whale.
Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana)
After being thought extinct in the mid-1900s, this iridescent green insect native to Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin is once again in danger. Wetlands, marshes, and streams that are critical to its survival are being protected from invasive species, as are proposals to limit cars’ speed limits that kill dragonflies.
Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata)
Due to ocean acidification and warming caused by climate change, coral reefs around the world are at risk. Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to add 83 coral species to the Threatened and Endangered lists; in 2015, 22 coral species had been listed as threatened, including Elkhorn corals (even though the petition requested endangered status)—and three had been listed as threatened. Despite the fact that many efforts are underway worldwide to restrict harvesting, tackling the effects of climate change will require enormous sustained and coordinated efforts at the global level.