It seems every year that I hear about more and more species becoming endangered. While it’s sad, it’s unfortunately true. But people, even though we seem to be the main cause of these creatures’ plights, can help.
According to the WWF, there are ten species that need a close eye this year, the Year of the Tiger, as they call it (the UN has declared it the Year of Biodiversity), and they are as follows:
These seems to include all species. (The Siberian tiger, while not specifically named, has less 200 surviving individuals currently.) Currently, it is estimated that there are only around 3,200 tigers total in the world, and they only occupy 7% of their historic range, which is down 40% from 2000. Their main threats are habitat loss and poaching.
The Polar Bear
These giants of the Arctic are often featured in wildlife campaigns, because their habitat, like many other arctic animals (several make this list, in fact), are suffering severe climate and habitat changes. Sea levels are rising, the ice is melting, and their habitat is changing shape. It is estimated that without action to help preserve them they could be extinct within the century, which seems like a long time to you and me, but to nature that is the bat of an eye.
These guys don’t get mentioned much, but like polar bears, they are suffering the same kinds of climate and habitat changes, which is devastating their populations. This past September approximately 200 of them washed up dead on the shores of Alaska from the Chukchi Sea.
Last year hundreds of these penguins washed up dead on beaches in Rio de Janeiro. But they aren’t alone as far as the penguin world goes. Out of the 17 species of penguin, 12 are experiencing rapid declinations in their populations. Again, climate and habitat change seems to be the culprit.
The largest of the marine turtles has been swimming the seas and oceans for more than 100 million years, and now it is estimated that only 2,300 adult females still survive in the Pacific, though they fare better in the Atlantic. Fishing decimates their populations as does the rising sea and temperature levels. Because of the warmer waters, it screws up their breeding patterns. Warmer waters during mating season means that less adult male turtles will be around with which to mate.
At the current fishing rates, these fish will be extinct in a mere 3 years. And even with this threat looming over them, there are no bans on fishing for them; however, the WWF supports the idea of boycotting the trade for them and currently the UK, France and Monaco are all on board.
In the entire world perhaps only 720 exist. Their threats include habitat loss, poaching, and war spreading into their protected areas. The good news is that in their protected range in Uganda there has been a 12% population increase in the past 12 years.
While their numbers are still strong (in the millions), they face a crucial problem. Every year these butterflies migrate from Canada and the USA to Mexico – where they have little habitat left to live. They need pine tree and fir forests in relatively high altitudes to thrive, which they are lacking currently. Tree nurseries would be an excellent solution and would help protect their strong numbers from ever declining.
These rhinos are among the most endangered species in the entire world. Their numbers are staggeringly low with only 60 individuals. With only two locations and being poached for use in traditional Chinese medicine (strangely enough), their future looks dim without intervention.
Around 1,600 of these giants roam the forests, but their habitats have been destroyed and isolated, leaving their populations segmented and separated. Action is being taken and reserves between their populations to join them back together for larger breeding pools and more habitat are being established.
Again, these are not the most endangered species in the world. There are many with lower numbers than some who make this list, such as the black-footed ferret or the riverine rabbit in Africa. The latter has a population of around 250. And let’s not forget the hirola, the most endangered antelope in Africa. Their population is significantly lacking with only about 600 exiting individuals.
Visit the WWF to learn more or to help save our planet’s creatures.
World Wildlife Fund
WWF’s Top 10 Endangered Species to Watch in 2010