It’s no secret that the world is in trouble. Humans have caused an incredible amount of damage to the ecosystem, especially within the last couple hundred years. Unfortunately, the advances in technology have meant that we’ve added more pollutants to the air. A booming population and exploration of unchartered territories means that humans are taking over more land than ever.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, at least for the human race. But there are many species of animals that are not so lucky. Many animals are on the verge of extinction or are endangered. Here are some of the animals that might disappear in the next year.
South China Tiger
Tigers as a species are one of the most endangered out there. Certain types of tigers are in even worse shape. The South China tiger, in particular, is likely to go extinct soon. As of right now, the only specimens known to be alive are found in zoos; The South China tiger hasn’t been seen in the wild since the 1970s!
The South China tiger population has been declining since the 1950s due to excessive hunting and extensive deforestation of their natural habitat. Though there are some living in nature preserves and other protected habitats, the prospects are bleak for this majestic animal.
Named after the Spanish word for “little cow,” the vaquita has several other names including “gulf porpoise,” “desert porpoise,” and “California harbor porpoise.” It is estimated that 60 of these rare animals are alive in the wild and are the most endangered cetaceans in the world. Experts predict that the vaquita will be extinct within five years.
While these animals have never been the target of hunters, the population decline can be partially pinned on them being trapped in illegal nets. The species declined rapidly- 92 percent in just the past two decades. Is it too late for the vaquita? Steps have been taken to protect them, but more drastic measures are needed to save this porpoise.
Also known as the “Far Eastern Leopard,” this critically endangered animal is native to southeastern Russia and northeastern China. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that there are fewer than 100 of these creatures still alive in the wild today. The Amur Leopard once roamed both China and the Korean Peninsula, but the species began to decline in the 1970s.
The species began its journey to extinction after its food sources were extensively hunted. Experts say that the Amur Leopard can still be saved, but more effort needs to be made in order to preserve these beautiful animals for future generations.
There were once many types of black rhinos, as this animal has been popular among hunters throughout history. The Southern black rhinoceros was the largest subspecies of black rhinoceros but was hunted to extinction around 1850. Other extinct subspecies include the north-eastern black rhinoceros, the western black rhinoceros, and the Uganda black rhinoceros.
As a whole, the species is in bad shape. A century ago, there sere several hundred thousand black rhinos. By 2004, that number had dropped to approximately 2,400. Despite the fact that this species is critically endangered, it is still possible to hunt at least certain specimens; 18 permits were issued to hunt older black rhinos in Namibia in 2014.
The Bornean orangutan is native to the island of Borneo, and one of only two great apes which are native to the continent of Asia. These highly intelligent animals share 97 percent of their DNA with humans. Deforestation has led to the decline of the Bornean Orangutan population, along with hunting and palm oil plantations.
While the Bornean orangutan is present in greater numbers than the similarly endangered Sumatran orangutan, the species is critically endangered, declining 14 percent in recent decades. Some experts estimate that the orangutan will be extinct in the wild within the next two decades.
This turtle is critically endangered and becoming even more so. Found all over the world, its population has been declining. To make matters worse, the species grows and matures slowly, making efforts to grow the population at a crawl. The population has declined due to pollution and development of coastal areas encroaching on their nesting sites.
Although it is illegal to kill, capture, or harass them, these animals have also been killed by humans, leading to even fewer numbers. Conservation efforts to protect the Hawksbill Turtle are underway and have been since they were first classified as endangered in 1970.
These unique animals are the only known mammal to be covered with large, protective scales made out of keratin. Pangolins live in trees or burrows and are nocturnal. Hunting of these animals and deforestation of their natural habitats has led to a decline of the population.
Two species of the pangolin are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species with others being endangered and vulnerable. Though conservation efforts have attempted to reproduce them in captivity, attempts are often unsuccessful as pangolins do not thrive in captivity and often die of diseases such as pneumonia.
These mammals are one of the world’s rarest. Also known as the Asian bicorn, the Vu Quang ox, and the siola, these large mammals are related to goats, antelopes, and cattle. Their name comes from a Vietnamese language and means “priceless, like the moon and the stars,” a fitting reminder that this endangered species must be protected.
The saola is often nicknamed the “Asian unicorn.” They are so rare that they were not even described until 1993! Their habitat has been slowly destroyed by humans and they have also been hunted. Since they are so rare, it is difficult to preserve the species.
Also known as the prairie dog hunter and the American polecat, these endangered animals have very small, restricted populations. Prairie dog populations have been decreasing since the 20th century due to a plague that has been slowly killing them. They were considered extinct in the wild in 1987, although conservation efforts have been slowly increasing the population.
Captive breeding programs have bred the black-footed ferret and released them to the wild. Now there are over 1,000 wild black-footed ferrets throughout America and Mexico. Hopefully, these conservation efforts mean the black-footed ferret will be around for many years to come!
The blue whale is not only the largest marine mammal in the world but also one of the most likely to go extinct. The blue whale is the largest animal scientists have known to ever exist and can weigh up to 173 tons.
During the 20th century, the blue whale population decreased by more than 99 percent bringing the total to around 360 individual whales. Whale hunting caused so many of these incredible animals to disappear. The population is now increasing, fortunately, and will hopefully continue to do so, although global warming may lead to another threat to its existence in the near future.
These animals are an endangered great ape. Although they are sometimes called pygmy chimpanzees, the proper name for this ape is the bonobo. Closely related to humans, bonobos have long legs and long hair. The greatest threat to the survival of the bonobo is habitat destruction due to humans taking over their natural habitats.
Fortunately, there are many bonobos currently living in captivity in an effort to preserve their numbers. Though scientists do not know how long they live in the wild, they live up to 40 years in captivity. There are approximately 200 bonobos living in zoos throughout the world.
Borneo Pygmy Elephant
These elephants have been endangered since 1986. They are threatened by destruction of their natural habitat and have declined by approximately 50 percent over the last couple of generations. These elephants differ from African elephants, being smaller in size. The Borneo elephant can be found in the northern and northeastern parts of Borneo.
Conservation efforts include tracking female elephants in order to better understand their movement patterns in order to see what can be done to preserve habitats for them. They are not critically endangered yet, but if their population continues to decline at this rate it will only be a matter of time before they are all gone.
These dolphins are native to New Zealand. They were named after Sir James Hector who examined the first known specimen of the dolphin while he was the curator of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, New Zealand. They are currently endangered although conservation efforts are being made.
Many of these dolphins are killed after being trapped in fishnets, leading to a decrease in their population. Marine protected areas have been designated in known Hector’s dolphin habitats in order to preserve them through making gillnets illegal in those areas. Efforts to increase protective areas for the dolphins are currently ongoing.
One of the best-known endangered species, the red panda is native to southwestern China and the eastern Himalayas. They are also known as the lesser panda, the red cat-bear, and the red bear-cat. These mammals are slightly larger than domestic cats. There are estimated to be less than 10,000 mature red pandas in the wild.
Destruction of natural habitats and poaching have led to a decline of this animal. Despite their name, they are not closely related to the giant panda and are more closely related to raccoons and skunks. If deforestation continues, it is possible that the red pandas will become even closer to extinction.
These sea mammals live in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Despite their widespread populations, they are in danger of becoming extinct. Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the animals in the coming decades as this will change their migration patterns and readily available food sources.
Many sea lions were killed off in the twentieth century by hunters. Although sealing has been made illegal in many countries, destruction of their native habitats has caused their numbers to continue to decline. Hopefully, they will continue to grow in number; sea lions are popular with tourists which means that many are safe in nature preserves.
Another endangered tiger is the Malayan tiger. It is critically endangered, with an estimated 250 mature breeding individuals alive. Malayan tigers are usually smaller than Indian tigers. They are protected by laws which ban international trade of tigers. They are also protected by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers which attempts to preserve these animals.
Tigers are often victims of poaching, which has led to a decrease in the population. Their habitats are also threatened by agriculture and development projects. While many efforts are being made to keep the Malayan tiger and other tigers safe, their continued existence in the wild is under serious threat.
These penguins are found in the Galapagos Islands and are the only wild penguins living in the Northern hemisphere. All other species of banded penguins live on the coast of Africa and in South America. They are on the endangered list and a source of prey for many animals such as sharks and sea lions.
Galapagos penguins are also threatened by humans who interrupt their nesting areas. Sadly, the penguins are also at risk of getting caught in fishing nets, and unreliable food sources and volcanic activity have also caused the population of Galapagos penguins to dwindle. Conservation efforts include breeding these penguins in captivity to increase their numbers.
The chimpanzee is native to sub-Saharan Africa and is endangered along with their fellow great apes, the bonobos. Closely related to humans, these animals have many human-like features. Threats to their continued survival include the destruction of their natural habitat.
Chimpanzees are known to be quite intelligent. Many of them live and are bred in captivity, partially because they are a popular tourist attraction in zoos and partially in an effort to preserve and grow their numbers. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service instituted strict regulations banning animal testing on chimpanzees in an effort to protect them.
African Wild Dog
Although they are the largest wild dog family in Africa, these animals have been disappearing. They have been dying off from disease and from threats to their natural habitats. It is estimated that 6,600 adults are currently alive in the wild. Like other wild dogs, the African wild dog is a pack animal.
Many countries have made efforts to conserve the African wild dog by providing legal protection that bans hunting of this animal. Many live in protected areas and in national parks in an effort to keep them safe and to grow the African wild dog population. Without more conservation efforts, however, these animals could become extinct in coming decades.