Critically Endangered species are Animals Facing Extinction in the wild, categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Compared to 1998 when there were 854 Animals Facing Extinction, by the year 2014 this number has jumped to 2464.
For thousands of years man and animal lived without threatening each other’s existence, taking only as much as was needed to survive. Today it is very different. As the human population grows, animals are rapidly losing habitat as the population expands. Housing, industry and agriculture reduces the habitat of native animals. Another huge problem is poaching and illegal trafficking fuelled by the rising demand for certain animals.
Below we have collected ten Animals Facing Extinction. Unfortunately there are much more than ten and we would like to raise awareness this way.
- Habitat: Gulf of California
- Number remaining: less than 100 individuals
Vaquita, the world’s smallest and most critically-endangered marine mammal, is on the edge of extinction. These little porpoises are victims of dangerous fishing practices that conservationists are vehemently trying to ban. Vaquita are often caught and drowned in gillnets used by illegal fishing operations in marine protected areas within Mexico’s Gulf of California. A very alerting statistic has shown that more than half of the population has been lost in the last three years.
This species will become extinct unless a gillnet ban protects their entire range. WWF is on red alert and is urgently working to ensure they can live and thrive in their natural habitat.
Amur Leopard Cubs by Borek Lupomesky
- Habitat: Far Eastern Russia
- Number remaining: less than 60
Amur Leopards are the northernmost, rare subspecies that inhabit the Russian Far East. There is less than 60 individuals left in the wild today. These magnificent big cats, can run at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour, leap more than 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically, similarly to other leopards. Their lifespan is 10-15 years, in captivity 20 years. The average litter size is just over 2 and the cubs stay with their mother for up to two years before becoming fully independent.
Amur Leopard population shrank dramatically during the 20th century as a result of human activities – primarily to habitat loss and hunting which is still the issue today. The Amur leopard is poached largely for its beautiful, spotted fur.
Black rhino and her calf by Pip Mortlock
- Habitat: eastern and central areas of Africa – Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Angola
- Number remaining: around 5000
In the early 20th century European settlers who arrived to Africa were hunting and senselessly slaughtering Black Rhinos simply for amusement. They were responsible for the early decline of the Rhino population. Between 1970 and 1992, 96 percent of Africa’s black rhinos were killed. WWF has been fighting to protect African rhinos since the 1960s.
Habitat loss has not been a significant factor in the recent decline of rhinos. Rather, poaching for their horn has decimated rhino populations. The rising demand for rhino horn has driven poaching to record levels. In Asian countries mostly in Vietnam, China Rhino horn is believed to have healing properties and is used in folk medicine.
Did you know that there are 5 different Rhino species? If not read about the 10 Differences between them
Photograph by Bruce Levick
- Habitat: Borneo and Sumatra
- Number remaining: around 2500
The Sumatran Elephant is one of the subspecies of the Asian elephant. These species are found exclusively on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. They have lost more than 80% of their natural habitat due to deforestation. Forest cover in Sumatra was reduced by as much as 48% between 1985 and 2007 because of infrastructure projects and development of plantations – such as palm oil plantations, coffee plantations, pulp and paper industries. Two of the world’s best tissue paper brands source their wood from the forests of Sumatra.
Poachers are also a threat to Sumatran Elephants. These species typically have smaller tusks, only the male elephants, but enough to tempt poachers to kill the animals for their tusks. China is the world’s largest retail market for elephant ivory products, the second one is the US.
There are significant differences between the Asian and African elephants. Read our recent article TOP 10 Differences Between African and Asian Elephants to learn more
- Habitat: Vietnam, Laos
- Number remaining: Unknown (estimated population below 50)
Also called the Asian unicorn, the Saola is a is a species of Antelope natively found in the forests on the border of north-central Vietnam and Laos. Since its discovery in 1992, scientists have documented saola in the wild on only four occasions to date. This rarely-seen mammal is critically endangered with an estimated population numbers just in the tens of individuals.
Living deep in the jungles, very little is known about these elusive mammals and there is none exist in captivity. The biggest threat to the Saola is the hunting for their horns which are a prized trophy amongst locals.
The traditional medicine demand in China and restaurant and food markets in Vietnam and Laos also severely affect these animals. They are commonly caught in traps that are set for other animals and deforestation is another major issue.
Photograph by Dave Proffer
- Habitat: Congo basin
- Number remaining: 800 individuals
Mountain gorillas live at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet in the forests of the Congo basin mountains. They have thicker fur that helps them to survive when temperatures drop below freezing. The mountain gorilla is considered to be one of the closest living relatives to the human as the gorilla hands are almost identical to the hands of a human being.
The loss of habitat is the biggest threat for gorillas.
If gorillas come into contact with humans, they can be vulnerable to human diseases, which gorillas experience in more severe forms. As humans move into areas near mountain gorillas – clearing the land for agriculture and livestock – gorillas are pushed farther up into the mountains for longer periods, where they have to endure dangerous and sometimes deadly conditions. In 2004, illegal settlers cleared 3,700 acres of gorilla forest in Virunga National Park, which is home to more than half the mountain gorilla population.
Leatherback Sea Turtle
- Habitat: Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Oceans, Mediterranean Sea
- Number remaining: estimated between 34,000 and 36,000 nesting females left worldwide
The largest sea turtle species, growing up to seven feet (2 meters) long and exceeding 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms). Leatherbacks are named for their shell, which is leather-like, rubbery to the touch, rather than hard, like other turtles. They are one of the most migratory species crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean as well.
Pacific leatherbacks migrate from the Coral Triangle all the way to the California coast to feed on the abundant jellyfish every summer and fall. The leatherback population is rapidly declining in many parts of the world.
The Atlantic population seems to be stable but the Pacific population is declining at an alarming rate due to egg harvest, fishery bycatch and coastal development. Eggs are taken by egg poachers from nests to be consumed for subsistence or as aphrodisiacs. Leatherbacks often ingest floating plastic debris mistaken for their favorite food: jellyfish.
Passionate about turtles?
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South China Tiger
- Habitat: Southern China
- Number remaining: less than 20 individuals
The South China tiger is a smaller-sized subspecies of tiger, native to the forests of southern China. It is the most critically endangered of all the tiger species.
In the early 1950s the population was estimated to 4,000 individuals which is by 1996 has declined to just 30-80 individuals.
Today this number is even less if any. Southern China tiger has not been sighted in the wild for more than 25 years. The habitat loss caused by deforestation, and hunting by poachers lead to near extinction of the species. The sub-tropical evergreen forest of southeast China which is the habitat of tigers is not sufficiently large, healthy or undisturbed enough to sustain viable tiger populations.
- Habitat: Asia and sub-Saharan Africa
- Number remaining: unknown
Pangolins, also called as ‘scaly anteaters‘ because of the tough, overlapping scales covering their bodies. These burrowing mammals eat ants and termites using their extraordinarily long, sticky tongue. When threatened they quickly roll themselves up into a tight ball.
Pangolins are one of the most trafficked mammals in Asia and Africa due to the demand for pangolin meat and scales. In China and Vietnam their meat is considered a delicacy and pangolin scales are used in traditional medicine and folk remedies. I
t’s difficult to estimate wild population sizes of this elusive mammal. But given the fact that between 2011 and 2013, an estimated 117,000-234,000 pangolins were killed, clearly pangolins are rapidly declining.
Photograph by Greg Hume
- Habitat: Borneo and Sumatra
- Number remaining: 7000
Sumatran orangutans are the only species of great ape found outside of Africa. Unlike their African great apes, the Sumatran orangutans lead a very solitary lifestyle, with males and females only really coming together to mate.
Living among the trees of tropical rainforests they spend nearly all of their lives high in the trees. Due to fire and conversion of forests to oil palm plantations and other agricultural development, orangutan’s habitat has been radically decreasing. Illegal trafficking is another serious threat to orangutans.
They are captured from the wild and kept in households as status symbols or in some areas orangutans are hunted for food.
- If you have some new informations about Animals Facing Extinction please share them with us in the comment box bellow
- To see more endangered species or find out what you can do visit the official site of WWF.