There are so many endangered species and while some are able to make it off the endangered list, others become extinct.
We did the digging and found 5 animals you may not know are endangered. While there are some animals, like the Giant Panda, Southern White Rhinoceros and the Grey Wolf who were once endangered, but no longer are, there are many still fighting to get off the list.
This means while we’ve seen some species saved, we’ve also seen others have gone extinct. It’s important to understand what can lead a species to being endangered and how we can help them from going extinct.
Photo by Bob Brewer on Unsplash.
What classifies an animal as endangered?
An animal is classified as endangered when its species is threatened by extinction. There are two factors which cause a species to become endangered:
1. Loss of habitat.
Loss of habitat can occur naturally, although human activity can also contribute. Developments for agriculture, industry and housing reduces the habitats of native organisms.
For example, deforestation is a leading cause for orangutan’s endangerment due to drastic loss of habitat.
2. Loss of genetic variation.
Genetic variation is described as the diversity of a species, which allows them to adapt to changes in their environment. Typically a species with a larger population will have greater variation. Loss of genetic variation reduces a species’ ability to adapt to environmental changes, making it easier for the species to become endangered.
For example, humans have a variety of hair, skin and eye colours which are a result of environmental changes.
The Red List.
The Red List is updated by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which defines the causes and severity of a species’s endangerment. Species fall into one of the seven ranks of conservation/threat levels:
- Least concern.
- Near threatened.
- Critically endangered.
- Extinct in the wild.
However, endangered species are determined by their range and habitat in addition to actual population. This is why species can be critically endangered in one area, but least concern in another.
Endangered species criteria:
- Population has declined by 50–70% in ten years or three generations. Or, if the population of a species decreases by 20% in five years or two generations.
- A species’ extent of occurrence is less than 5,000 square kilometres.
- Population size is less than 2,500 mature individuals.
- Population is restricted to 250 mature individuals.
- There is a 20% probability the animal will become extinct in the wild in 20 years or five generations.
Critically endangered species criteria:
- Population has declined by 80–90% in ten years or three generations. Or, if a species’ population decreases by 25% in three years or one generation.
- A species’ extent of occurrence is less than 100 square kilometres.
- Population size is less than 250 mature individuals.
- Population is restricted to 50 mature individuals.
- There is a 50% probability the animal will become extinct in the wild in 10 years or three generations.
5 Critically Endangered Endangered Animals
1. Amur Leopards.
Amur Leopards are a rare subspecies located in Russia, Far East and North-East China and possibly North Korea. This species has become critically endangered due to habitat loss, poaching and deforestation. There are only about 70 Amur leopards left in the wild, which is one of the reasons why they are critically endangered.
Vaquitas are the world’s rarest marine mammal on the brink of extinction. It’s estimated there are about 10 vaquitas left in the wild, or somewhere between 6 and 22. There was a 90% decline in population between 2011 and 2016, which has resulted with only 10 individuals today, placing vaquitas as a critically endangered species.
While vaquitas were only discovered in 1958, the species has rapidly declined as they are often caught and drowned in illegal gillnets. When they become entangled, they cannot surface to get air and drown within minutes. While a permanent ban on gillnet fishing and night fishing in the vaquita habitat was enforced in July 2016, it is illegal fishing that has rapidly accelerated the decline of vaquitas.
Dr. Anna Hall of the Purpose Conservation Society stated, “There is nothing else we need to worry about other than gillnets. If we remove the gillnets, we will likely save the vaquita.”
Orangutans habitat lowland forests in areas of Asia. Bornean and Sumatran orangutans have both been labelled critically endangered after seeing a sharp decline in population.
Twenty years ago there were more than 230,000 orangutans in the wild, but there are now only 104,700 Borneans and 7,500 Sumatrans.
Hunting, trading and deforestation are among the top threats to orangutans. Females are often targeted by hunters, who will send their babies to the pet trade, where survival rate is very low.
Although gorillas in general are endangered, there are multiple types of gorillas which are critically endangered. Cross River Gorillas, Mountain Gorillas and Eastern Lowland Gorillas are all classified as critically endangered.
Cross River Gorilla.
Cross River Gorillas live in Nigeria and Cameroon and have been hunted to near extinction. It’s estimated there are about 250 individuals left in the wild.
The second critically endangered gorilla is the mountain gorilla. Living in the Congo Basin, this type of gorilla’s population has declined due to poaching, habitat loss and human diseases. It’s estimated there are only 880 individuals left.
Eastern lowland gorilla.
Eastern lowland gorillas also reside in the Congo Basin, experiencing a rapid decline of 50% since the ‘90s.
Saola (pronounced “sow-la”) are small deer-like mammals found in forests in Vietnam and Laos. Only discovered in 1992, this species is now on the critically endangered list as a result of deforestation and hunting. There’s estimated to be between 20–750 saolas left.
How You Can Help Support Endangered Species
Awareness is the top way to help support endangered species. Understanding how and why a species is endangered can help bring people together to form a solution to save the species. Once someone is aware of endangered species it’s easier to spread awareness, enabling others to become concerned about the issue.
Donating is another way to support endangered species. There are a variety of organisations dedicated to helping endangered species, which are listed below. Organisations need funds for research, supplies, medical aid for animals and other tools to help a struggling species.
Organisations helping endangered species:
- International Fund for Animal Welfare
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
- The Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME)
3. Clean up.
Making daily life choices can impact the environment and reduce pollution. Recycling and correctly disposing of rubbish is another way to help keep waterways clean and prevent harm to wildlife’s environments.
Ways to reduce waste:
- Buy green products (plastic free, biodegradable, etc.)
- Buy sustainable food (plant-based, organic, etc)
- Recycle, compost and correctly dispose rubbish
- Support green businesses
Looking to help clean up and recycle your rubbish? You can find recycling services on Localsearch.com.au!