Thousands of species are threatened by human activities, only few manage to increase their population. Illegal hunting, deforestation, the black market, the expansion of humans and other factors are jeopardizing the survival of many animals, including 20 that are part of the WWF’s list catalogued as critically endangered of extinction.
Population: just over 80
Leopards not only inhabit the savannas of Africa, this subspecies is found in the far east of Russia and part of China. It is considered one of the rarest big cat on the planet. They live from 10 to 15 years in the wild. Its name comes from the Amur River, where they live nearby. Click here to see the species full profile and story.
They are found only in the Malaysian Peninsula and in southern Thailand. It is one of the smallest tigers in the world. In 1950 there were only 3,000 left, now only more than 250 live. Their number also fell due to the high demand in Asian countries for their body parts and their skin. Click here to see the species full profile and story.
SOUTH CHINA TIGER
Population: probably extinct in nature
In the early 1950s about 4000 tigers were calculated but in the following decades they were hunted as if they were a plague. In 1996, a population of only 30-80 was estimated. This species is classified as extinct because it has not been seen in the wild in more than 25 years.
Also known as the Amur tiger, this feline is the largest of all cats in the world. Like the Amur leopard, they live in Russia and China in the Land of the Leopard National Park. They face the same threats as the rest of the tigers mentioned above.
It is only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. In 1978 there were 1000, now less than 400 remain. They are the smallest subspecies of tigers in the world. Deforestation, illegal hunting and demand in Asian countries for their body and skin parts are extinguishing them. They are quickly losing their habitat and prey without any sign of recovery in their number.
Population: 2,400 – 2,800
Endemic species of the island of Sumatra. It is one of the smallest elephants in the world. Endangered by illegal hunting and the demand for its ivory tusks. This species is very important to their habitat, they contribute to the environment because when the feed on a variety of plants, they deposit seeds wherever they go.
They are the smallest rhinos in the world and the only ones in Asia with two horns. Between them and the Java rhinos, they compete for who is the most threatened. Its population does not show growth. They once lived in the eastern part of the Himalayas, now they are only found in Sumatra.
They are the most threatened of the 5 rhino species. The remaining of its kind live alone in the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia. The last one who lived in Vietnam was killed in 2010.
Population: 5,000 – 5,400
They are smaller than the two species of African rhinos. They have two horns, sometimes 3. Their population quickly fell in the twentieth century at the hands of European hunters. Between 1960 and 1995, their number was reduced by 98% to 2,500. By efforts of many organizations, their number has increased to 5400 in the present day.
The rarest marine mammal in the world. It was discovered only in 1958 and 60 years later, human kind has put it on the brink of extinction. Its population has been dramatically reduced by illegal fishing techniques in protected areas of the Gulf of Mexico.
ORANGUTAN OF TAPANULI
The most threatened of all the great ape species and only discovered in 2017. Their number is scattered, they live in certain parts of the rainforests of Indonesia on only 100,000 hectares.
Now they can only be found north of the province of Sumatra and Aceh. Of the 9 populations of orangutans, only 7 aim to have a long life and only 3 have a number greater than 1000.
Population: about 104,700
Its population has fallen 50% in the last 60 years and 55% of its habitat has been destroyed in 20 years. There are 3 subspecies of Orangutan of Borneo: the northwest (1500), the northeast and the center (35000), the first being the most threatened by hunting and deforestation.
CROSS RIVER GORILLA
Population: 200 – 300
Studying them and giving an exact number of their population is very difficult since they avoid humans at all costs and because the place where they live is not easily accessible. Their habitat is being reduced for timber and illegal hunting business. Efforts are being made to create parks and homes in Cameroon and Nigeria where these animals can thrive.
The largest of the 4 subspecies of gorilla. Its population has decreased due to all civil problems suffered by the country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their habitat and their number have reduced by almost half in 50 years. It is estimated that 8500 gorillas live but giving an exact number has not been possible because of the violence that plagues that region.
They live in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea. Their exact number is unknown since they inhabit the most remote and dense forests of Africa. Its population is believed to have been reduced by 60% in the last 25 years due to excessive hunting and diseases.
It is a subspecies of the eastern gorilla, inhabiting a range of extinct volcanoes that passes through the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Since 1902 these gorillas have been victims of war, hunting and destruction of their home. They live high in the mountains, as the name implies, but each time they are invaded by humans they are displaced to even higher areas where they face dangerous living conditions.
Their distinctive and colorful pattern in their shell makes them a “product” of very high value in the market. They live in the world’s tropical oceans, especially alongside coral reefs. Its presence helps in keeping healthy ecosystems and corals which have existed for millions of years.
Very little is known about this species known as the Asian unicorn since it was newly discovered in 1992 by the Vietnam Ministry of Forestry alongside WWF. They can only be found in the Annamite Mountains in Vietnam and Laos. Scientists have only seen it 4 times to date.
YANGTZE FINLESS MARSOPA
The Yangtze River, the longest in Asia, used to be home to two species of dolphins, one of them the flapless porpoise and the Baiji dolphin (declared extinct in 2006, was the first species of dolphin to disappear due to human activity). They are incredibly intelligent animals.
CAUSES AND THREATS
Thousands of species from all over the world share threats created by humans. Some unnecessary activities are avoidable.
- Illegal hunting, species trafficking
- Deforestation, agriculture and livestock
- Lack of prey (for predators)
- Lack of job offer
- Production of non-certified toilet paper
- Plastics pollution
- Palm oil production
HOW CAN YOU HELP
Almost every time we buy something, we don’t know, we don’t ask or we don’t want to know about its origin or the impact and importance they have on nature. Let’s not look at the other side, and let’s see how we can help the survival of thousands of animals, even ours. In this link you can see more about what we can do to help endangered species and the world.
- Plastic – reduce its use
- Deforestation – avoid products that cause it
- Consume less meat
- Cycling to work
- Car sharing – go by bus, subway
- Do not buy any type of skins or products made from exotic animals
- Avoid circuses / places like Sea World
- Do not pay or take photos with animals
- Get involved in what’s happening / donations
- Report illegal markets
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