After so many centuries of having their habitats destroyed, and being hunted by humans, it’s no wonder there are so many species of animals on the endangered species list. To lose any of them to a mass biological extinction would be horrible, but there are a few of the species that are so fascinating or majestic, it would be an even greater tragedy if they weren’t around for future generations. Here are 7 of those animals on the endanger species list.
There are several species of rhinoceros, and they’re all endangered, many of them critically endangered. Only a handful live outside of specially created reserves and national parks, where the danger of poaching is minimalized, but not eliminated.
2. Polar Bear
Though the polar bear isn’t technically an endangered species, most scientists agree that it will be, very soon, due to climate change (also known as “global warming”). As polar glaciers melt, polar have to swim for miles to hunt for food, and some are drowning. They are also in danger from poachers, though several countries have agreed to do what they can to protect polar bears from this fate.
What is a vaquita, you ask? It’s an endangered porpoise, accidentally caught in commercial fishing nets in the Gulf of California. There are only an estimated 250 individuals left, and unless something is done to prevent them from being fished, by accident, they’re in danger of becoming biologically extinct.
4. Tree Kangaroo
Aren’t these little guys cute? They’re closely related to the long-legged, long-hopping kangaroos we’re all familiar with, but these ones have adapted longer arms for climbing and living in trees. Their natural habitat is small, mostly in the mountainous areas of New Guinea and the surrounding area, so they’re in danger of becoming extinct, too.
5. African Elephant
Only a few decades ago, the wild elephant population numbered in the millions, but now, due largely to poaching, the African elephant is endangered. They’re vitally important to their eco-system, functioning as a keystone species, but their ivory tusks make them an attractive target to illegal hunters, and their shrinking habitat puts them in conflict with humans.
6. Amur Leopard
Right now, there are about 40 individual animals in this unique sub-species of the more populous (though still endangered) African leopard. This one lives in the Russian Far East, and looks quite a bit different than its warm-weather cousin. It has a thin 1-inch coat in the summer, then a thicker 3-inch coat in the winter, and its spots are much larger and further apart.
7. Giant Panda
There are currently fewer than 2,500 mature giant pandas in the wild, most of them in a tiny area in southeast China, where their habitat is rapidly dwindling. They’re one of the most endangered species on the planet, though they’re universally adored… and because they’re one of the most recognizable symbols of what it means to be endangered, China has created reserve space for them that encompasses nearly half of their remaining natural habitat.
Believe it or not, those are just a few of the hundreds of species on the endangered species list… there are so many of them, it’s a little disheartening. But now that we’re aware of them, we can help conserve them, right? Which of these endangered animals is your own special favorite? Or is there another endangered animal species you’re more fond of? Please share!
Top Photo Credit: accwai