Following David Attenborough’s shocking documentary “Extinction: The Facts” aired on the BBC, the population’s eyes have truly been opened to the shocking reality of species extinction on the planet, and how human’s have contributed to this rapid species extinction. Here is our blog about animals you may not have known were critically endangered, what caused these terrible loses and what if anything is being done to save the animals.
Northern White RhinoAs mentioned in ‘Extinction: The Facts’ there are only two Northern White Rhinos left in existence. These two rhinos are mother and daughter, meaning there is no natural way to try and repopulate the species with the last surviving male dying in 2018. However, experts, in an effort to repopulate, have managed to create 3 viable embryos, which may will be given to surrogate mothers in an attempt to reignite the Northern White Rhino population. This huge decline in Northern White Rhino is due to a massive black-market demand for their horns, due to belief that it has medicinal properties.
GorillasThere are three Gorilla species that are critically endangered according to the WWF’s list of species at risk, the Cross River, Eastern Lowland, and Western Lowland Gorillas. The exact amount of these gorillas is unknown because of their dense habitat make them difficult to monitor. However, it is known that they are under threat due to widespread Ebola threat, poaching for meat and to keep baby gorillas as pets, and habitat loss. Moves have been made towards protecting gorillas, but this is not efficiently policed allowing these threats to continue.
PangolinThese scaly little creatures are native to Africa and Asia, there are two types of Pangolin that are critically endangered. The reason for this is high demand for their meat which is considered a delicacy and their scales which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. All Pangolins are internationally protected, but the Chinese government has increased protection for Pangolins to put a stop to this meat and scale hunting. This has driven the market underground and Pangolins have become the most trafficked mammal in Asia, causing their population to decrease rapidly.
Sumatran ElephantSumatran Elephants have a population of roughly 2,400 to 2,800 which may seem like a lot to be considered critically endangered, however because the population of Sumatran Elephants has halved in one generation it is considered to be very high risk of extinction. These gorgeous elephants are critically endangered due to deforestation which has destroyed their habitat leaving them only small areas of land to live, which is not sustainable for the longevity of the species. The Sumatran Elephant is also at risk due to ivory poaching for their tusks, in order to do this the elephant is killed, however only male elephants grow tusks, this causes the sex ratio to be imbalanced for reproduction.
Scottish Killer WhalesThe Scottish Hebrides is a hotspot for aquatic mammals and Sharks with over 30,000 recorded in the past 20 years. However, there is only one known pod of killer whales left in Scottish waters. 7 Killer Whales (4 males and 3 females) are left off the Western Isles of Scotland. None of the whales are successfully able to reproduce due to high levels of chemicals (that have been banned due to their toxicity) in the waters that have left them infertile. These chemicals have also been said to be threatening the lives of half the planet’s killer whales, despite being banned they are ever-present and continue to cause major issues. Not being able to reproduce means that the pod will become extinct which will be a devastating loss to Scottish waters.
Bluefin TunaBluefin Tuna is one of the most sought-after fish in the world, with the most expensive single Bluefin Tuna fish being valued at over $1.75 million. It is a delicacy in Japanese sushi, and sashimi. Due to the massive demand, over-fishing is what has caused this massive threat to the lives of Bluefin Tuna, and subsequent pirate fishing which is neither regulated or monitorable. Tuna tagging has helped to track and help protect the fish, but this isn’t enough to stop illegal fishers.
Amur LeopardThe Amur Leopard unlike most leopard species who live in hot African climates is native to forests in far east Russia. They are on this list because they have become critically endangered due to mass poaching. The Amur Leopards are poached for their gorgeous fur, as an Amur skin can sell for around $1000. Leopard poaching is not the only problem, as poaching is prolific for their prey, meaning there isn’t enough food for the Leopards to eat. In the wild there are now only around 90 Amur Leopards left.
Yangtze Giant Softshell TurtleNative to the Yangtze river in China the Yangtze giant softshell turtle one of the most critically endangered animals in the world with only 3 turtles left. All three of the turtles are male after the final female turtle died in 2019 without having reproduced despite zoos efforts to help repopulate. Human interference has threatened the giant turtles through, loss of habitat due to infrastructure development and river damming, poaching, and capture to be sold as pets. However, despite this, researchers are not giving up hope, and continue to search for unknown surviving Yangtze Giant Softshell turtles in the wild.
Lost SharkThe Lost Shark, so called because it was lost as soon as it was found, has not been seen since the 1930s when it was discovered, and only three specimen of this shark exist, found in Borneo, Thailand, and Vietnam, one of the specimen is an embryo. What is troubling about this shark, is that due to a lack of regulating in fishing and fisheries, many marine species in that part of the world are hugely at risk. This is why regulation and species protection is so important, so that sustainable fishing regulations can be enforced so that species are not at threat from extinction. As the search for new species of shark continues, there is hope that we may find more Lost Shark in the wild.
SaolaNow this is an animal you may not have heard of and you may not hear of them again because their unknown population makes it difficult to even estimate how many are in the wild. Saolas are a small bovine mammal that live in the forests of Laos and Vietnam. Again, their threat is through habitat loss due to infrastructure forcing the Saolas into smaller and smaller habitats. They are also the victims of hunting, however what is important to note is that they are often not the hunters target, and they are trapped in traps meant for other animals. This goes to show that hunting it completely careless, with no regard for other wildlife harmed whilst hunting targeted species.
If you notice a running theme through this article, the threats caused to the endangered species is humans. Whether is be chemicals, hunting, deforestation or just to keep as pets, it is the actions of people that has caused harm to these creatures. For more information about what is being done to help protect and conserve species, go to the WWF website.