Endangered animals are those which have their population reducing at a higher rate. The threat could be so serious that the animal is likely to become extinct. Unfortunately, the major reason for a species to become endangered is humans. Yes, a human who prides themselves on being rational beings is the only species that ruthlessly kills animals around them. Today we will explore those major endangered animals on planet earth.
1. Eastern Lowland Gorilla
The Eastern lowland gorilla is a subspecies of gorilla that can be found mainly in the rain forests of the Congo in Africa. The other name of this subspecies is 'Grauer's gorilla'. It is the largest of the gorilla species with a body weighing up to 250 kg. A recent survey shows that the population has come down to around 4000, whereas until the mid-1990s, there were around 17000 of these gorillas alive. The main reason for the decrease in the population is illegal poaching which means hunting, capturing, or killing animals. Trading of their body parts is also carried out on a large scale. Other reasons include the destruction of habitat due to mining, agricultural expansion, logging, etc.
2. Red Panda
The red panda is a mammal that lives mainly in the mountains of Nepal, Northern Myanmar, and Central China. They are also seen in the North Eastern Indian states like Assam and Sikkim. Red pandas have markings of both pandas and raccoons, also they are known to be solitary, but are skillful, and prefer to stay in the trees most of the time. Due to the decline of trees and bamboo, the decrease in the number of red pandas started. The main food consumed by the pandas is the latter, but they also eat a variety of other foods like fruits, flowers, seeds, etc. They are trapped and killed to use their fur on a large scale for the production of hats. The population of red pandas is less than 10000, so they have been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
3. The Bengal Tiger
The Bengal Tiger is predominantly found in the parts of India like Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The Bengal Tiger is a subspecies of the tiger family and this wild cat is known for its power and strength. Despite their strength, they are close to being extinct. The main reason for killing them is their skin and body parts, including bones and teeth for commercial benefits and medicinal purposes. Habitat loss is the reason for the extinction of many animals and has caused tigers to come down to nearby villages in search of prey. This increased the conflicts between
humans and tigers, which further resulted in killing the tigers for self-protection. Bengal Tigers in the Sundarbans are the only tigers that inhabit mangrove forests.
4. African Giraffe
The West African Giraffe is found in the Sahel region of West Africa. According to the experts, these herbivores were a common sight across the Sahel and Savanna regions of West Africa until the First World War. But due to the increase in human population farming and hunting was done on a large scale which affected the giraffes. However, the main reason behind the decline of the African giraffe is the cutting of trees. This forced them to move out and sometimes separate themselves. Hunting of these giraffes was carried out for their tails, pelt, and meat. Their tails are highly prized symbols of authority in African culture. Their skin is used for making clothing, shoes, bags, belts, hats, and covers for drums. Their hair is used for making bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry items among African tribes. This reason thus endangered the African giraffe.
5. Arabian Tahr
Found in the Hajar mountains of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Sultanate of Oman. They are the smallest of the tahr species and are popularly seen at a high elevation, between 1000 and 1800 meters where rainfall is heavy. The Arabian Tahr are small but very strong and agile animals with heavily built bodies and solid horns. Their survival is on leaves, fruits, shrubs, grasses, and also on the regular supply of water. There is no exact data regarding their population, but it is said that there are less than 5000 of them left. The major threats faced by them are intense grazing, illegal hunting, and habitat destruction. In 2009, Wadi Wurayah, Fujairah was declared the first protection mountain area of the United Arab Emirates. It is now home to the tahrs and other rare species. So many efforts have been made since the 1970s to conserve the Arabian tahr species.
6. Black Rhinoceros
The Black Rhinoceros is mainly found in Eastern and South Africa, they are considered the oldest group of mammals. Their skin is special and strong enough to protect them from external injuries; also they have a keen sense of smell. Most rhinos have 2 horns, sometimes a third one too. These horns make them a profitable target for illegal trade. It is said that between 1970 and 1992, more than 90% of the black rhinos in Africa were killed mainly because of this reason. This dangerous activity is carried out in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. As a result, black rhinoceros have become endangered.
7. Siamese Crocodile
This name may not be familiar to most of us, but they are among the most endangered reptiles in the world today. The Siamese crocodile was previously found throughout South Asia, in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. But today they are only seen in the Mekong River basin and wetlands in Cambodia and a few other places. The main threat is humans because hunting is carried out for the skin. Conversion of rainforest habitats into agricultural farms, use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, etc have contributed greatly to the declining population of these reptiles. However, crocodiles are maintained and conserved in Cambodia as well as in Thailand. There are also many conservation programs carried out in these two countries, which gives little hope regarding the future of these endangered crocodiles.
8. The Bornean Orang-Utans
They are seen mainly on the island of Borneo. They are small-sized apes that eat over 500 plant species for their diet and are highly intelligent and skilled animals. According to experts, orang-utans are important for the major role they play in seed dispersal. This helps largely in keeping forests healthy. According to the IUCN, the population of Bornean orang-utans has dropped by almost two-thirds since the 1970s. Killing by residents, when the orang-utans move into agricultural areas is also a reason. And the major reason is the pet trade using young orang-utans which involves huge cash, is another threat to the species. The WWF is one of the organizations that work with government and local bodies to conserve Bornean orang-utans.
9. African Wild Dog
The African wild dog is seen in southern Africa and the southern part of East Africa, especially Tanzania and Northern Mozambique. They mostly roam around in the woodlands of these countries. They are known by various names like painted dogs, cape hunting dogs, and African hunting dogs. They live in packs of around 10 individuals. The major threat to their lives is diseases like rabies, canine distemper, etc. They are considered to be the most endangered predators of Africa.
10. Asiatic Cheetah
Asiatic Cheetah is one of the fastest mammals alive. Its range extended throughout India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. But today, one has to be lucky enough to see an Asiatic cheetah as it is one of the rarest animals today. According to studies, it is said that there are only 50 cheetahs left. One of the reasons for the disappearance of Asiatic cheetahs is the absence of preferred prey. We know for a fact that when small animals in an area are overhunted, it affects the larger ones too.
11. Snow Leopard
A snow leopard is a wild cat that is found in the areas of Central and South Asia at heights between 3000 to 4500m. In size they are smaller than others in their family and have stocky bodies with thick fur and small rounded ears, this helps the animal to minimize heat loss. Their population is in danger, and the main reason is hunting, habitat loss, and retaliatory killings. With the reduction in the number of its prey like the Argali sheep, ibex, and hares, these leopards are forced to hunt domestic animals in their nearby areas. As a result, locals kill them in retaliation. The leopards are also poached for their skin for making fur coats.
12. The Radiated Tortoises
They are one of the most attractive species in the tortoise family. Typically they have bright yellow skin coloration with black markings on the head. They also have high-domed black to brown shells, covered with yellow or orange star-like patterns. To protect themselves from predators the tortoises pull their soft limbs and heads inside their hard shells. They also make loud screeching noises during times of crisis. Radiated tortoises live for a very long time, sometimes up to the age of 188, this is another interesting characteristic. However, their lives are short due to humans and their activities. The reasons for this are poaching and the destruction of habitat. The commercial trade of these aquatic beings and their pet trade is illegal.
13. Blue Whales
Blue whales are the largest animals that ever existed on earth. They are very huge and weigh as much as 150000kg, which is almost equal to the weight of 30 elephants. They grow up to 33.5 meters in length. Krills are the major food for blue whales. It is said that they can eat about 4 tonnes of krill every day. The blue whale was almost extinct at a point when the International Whaling Commission declared them a protected species in 1966. The main reason is commercial whaling and climatic changes. The climatic changes in the marine environment have badly affected krills and this, in turn, has led to a fall in the blue whale population. The presence of toxic substances in water is another factor contributing to this.
14. The Swift Parrot
The swift parrot is a fast-flying species found in Tasmania, along the Southeastern coast. It is a beautifully colored bird in a grass green shade, with a red beak. In winter, the swift parrots migrate to the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range and in the autumn they migrate to mainland Australia. They have been declared a critically endangered species with a population of fewer than 2500 individuals. The most serious reason behind the decrease in population is the cutting of trees. Also, there are predators like sugar gliders who kill the parrots.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2023 Omkar Mhatre