For some species, time on planet Earth is running out. Human beings are the greatest threat to the survival of endangered species with poaching, habitat destruction, and the effects of climate change causing a lot of the problems. Read on to learn about some of the beautiful creatures most in need of our help, protection, and conservation.
Gorillas are fascinating creatures that share 98.3% of their DNA with humans. There are two species, the Eastern Gorilla and the Western Gorilla, and two subspecies. Three out of four are Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There are only around 150 to 180 of them left in the wild. Like many endangered animals, their decline is mostly due to poaching, habitat loss, and human-caused factors.
The name Rhinoceros comes from two Greek words Rhino and Ceros, which when translated into English mean nose horn. Poaching for their distinctive horns is their biggest threat. Javan rhino horn can sell for up to $30,000 per kg on the black market. Three of the five species of rhinoceros are critically endangered. The black rhino, the Javan rhino, and the Sumatran rhino are among the world’s most threatened animals. There are only between 46 to 66 individuals left for all three species in Indonesia.
08 Sea turtles
Two species of sea turtle are critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Hunting is one of the biggest threats to sea turtles. They are also at risk from habitat loss, bycatch, and pollution as well as climate change. Sand temperature determines the sex of hatchlings with eggs developing as females in warmer temperatures.
The Saola is one of the rarest large terrestrial mammals on Earth. It was first discovered in 1992 in the Annamite Range in Vietnam. Population numbers are hard to determine with any accuracy, but it’s considered critically endangered. The Saola is also known as the Asian unicorn.
06 North Atlantic right whale
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered whales in the world. They are gentle giants that spend a lot of time at the surface feeding on zooplankton. There are currently only around 400 of them left, and only about 100 breeding females. But they are still at risk of extinction due to a number of factors, including boat strikes and fishing gear.
05 Tooth-billed pigeon
Up to 380 tooth-billed pigeons are left in the wild, with no captive populations. Hunting has played a big part in their decline and kills thousands of individuals each year.
Gharials are fish-eating crocodiles from India. They have long thin snouts with a large bump on the end which resembles a pot. The numbers of Gharial numbers have been in decline since the 1930s and are now close to extinction. Their decline is due to several issues, though all human-made. Habitat loss, pollution, and entanglement in fishing nets are some of the biggest threats to their survival.
Kakapos are ground-dwelling parrots from New Zealand. They are critically endangered with only around 140 individuals remaining. Threats include introduced species such as cats and stoats that hunt using scent. Intensive conservation measures mean the population is on the increase now, which is positive.
02 Amur Leopard
Unfortunately, Amur leopards are one of the world’s most endangered big cats. They are as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and between 2014 and 2015, there were only around 92 Amur leopards left within their natural range. That number is now estimated to be less than 70. Their beautiful coats are popular with poachers as are their bones which they sell for use in traditional Asian medicine
The vaquita is the smallest and most endangered marine mammal in the world. Their biggest threat is from illegal fishing of totoaba, a large fish in demand for its swim bladder. Efforts now focus on enforcing the ban on gillnets and persecuting those that use them.