13 Stunning Animal Species That Could Soon Be Extinct
From leopards and giant woodpeckers to six-foot salamanders driven into decline...
In the past few days, the West African Black Rhino has been officially declared extinct. The Northern White Rhino species is also on the brink, with only one male remaining and that one male now under armed-guard protection 24 hours a day.
Rhinos are hunted for their horns, believe it or not, largely down to the belief in Asia that these horns can cure various illnesses. CNN recently reported that “experts say the rhino horn is becoming more lucrative than drugs".
This certainly isn’t a subject that covers the human race in glory, and unfortunately these rhinos are not the only species of animal which may be wiped from the earth in the next few years...
1) The Amur Leopard
These animals can only be found in the snowy forests of the Primorye region in eastern Russia. Only 40 of the species are left at most, making it the rarest and most endangered cat in the world.
The Amur leopard previously lived in Korea and China as well as Russia, but has since been wiped out in those areas. Logging, road building, illegal hunting and climate change have all played a part in its demise.
2) The Cross River Gorilla
Discovered in 1904 by Paul Matschie, the Cross River gorilla can be found in the hills of Cameroon and Nigeria.
A recent survey suggest that there around between 200 and 300 remaining due to illegal poaching and the destruction of their habitat.
3) The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
This amazing giant woodpecker is so rarely spotted that scientists believe it may actually already be extinct. At roughly 20-inches in height and with a wingspan of 30-inches, the bird is certainly no slouch, but while it was once rife in the southeast forests of the United State of America, it is now in peril.
In 2006, an anonymous $10,000 reward was offered for information about an ivory-billed woodpecker nest or feeding site, raising to $50,000 in 2008. These offers came to nothing though, and largely due to deforestation, the woodpecker is now probably extinct.
4) The Northern Sportive Lemur
Madagascar, as you’ll probably know from the famous film and general life knowledge, is packed with lemurs. Or it used to be anyway. That number has been on the fall for some years now.
There are approximately 100 species of lemur, but there is said to be less than 20 of the Northern Sportive remaining. The species is very small, weighing less than two pounds on average. It’s large eyes give it better night vision, but due to the logging in Madagascar, it will likely soon be wiped out.
5) The Hawksbill Turtle
The critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle can be found in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific, but you’d probably have to look for a while to find one. Human fishing has made them extremely rare.
This specie of turtle was the primary source of ‘tortoiseshell material’ used for decorative purposes. So pretty much people are killing it to hang the shell in their living room. Idiots.
6) The Javan Rhino
Rhino is the buzz-word of the endangered debate at the minute, with one species wiped out and another under armed protection.
The Javan rhinoceros is a species with a population of 40-60, based on the western tip of the Java island in Indonesia. Poachers wiped the rhino out in Vietnam in 2011, who hunt it, like most other species of rhino, to use its horn in Asian medicine. The same substance they use from the rhino horn could also be found in human nails.
7) The Saola (Ox)
Known as the ‘Asian unicorn’ due to the fact that it is so rarely seen, there is less than a few hundred of these critically endangered animals left on the planet – although scientists do not know the exact number.
They live in the tropical forests along the border between Vietnam and Laos, and were only actually discovered back in 1992. It has only been spotted a single-digit amount of times in that 23-year period, and until 2013, had not actually been seen in a full 15 years.
Deforestation in the area and a surge in Southeast Asian poaching are the main causes in this case.
8) The South China Tiger
In the 1950s, there were around 4000 of these ferocious tigers in South China. In the decades that followed they were hunted as pests, and despite the ban on hunting in the country in 1979, by the mid-1990s, there was just 30-80 of the species left.
The WWF state that “the South China tiger is considered by scientists to be ‘functionally extinct’, as it has not been sighted in the wild for more than 25 years."
9) The Sumatran Orangutan
The Sumatran Orangutan is just one of a number of critically endangered animals in the Sumatran forests. Due to poaching and capture, less than 250 of them remain, and they also share a habitat with the low-numbered Sumatran rhino, tiger and elephant.
Orangutans that were confiscated from illegal trade or found as pets (some people are so f*cked up) are being reintroduced to Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, so there are plans in place to increase the numbers of the ridiculously harmless-looking ape.
10) The Vaquita (Porpoise)
This rarely seen species of porpoise is native to the northern part of the Gulf of California, and as of last year is less than 100 in number.
Mexico’s federal government has recently launched an ‘unprecedented effort’ to save the species however, dramatically increasing a ban on gill net fishing in the region over the next two years. Fingers crossed it works out!
11) The Chinese Giant Salamander
The Chinese Giant Salamander is the largest salamander and amphibian in the world, measuring up at a cool six feet.
The animal is endemic to rocky mountain streams and lakes, but due to habitat loss and pollution is also on the decline. There’s also the fact that it’s considered a delicacy and used in traditional Chinese medicine, which is pretty freakin’ outrageous. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect the bad guys to do in a Disney film.
Indeed, the animal has seen an 80% decline in numbers since the 1950s, so we're guessing the poachers don’t care that it’s about to wipe out a family line 170 million years old...
12) The Hawaiian Monk Seal
While critically endangered, there’s still hope for the Hawaiin Monk Seal, of which less than 1,000 remain. Scientists aren't certain why the numbers of the seal are declining, but theories are include changes in ocean conditions and local fisherman reducing their food source.
They’ve also been known to catch diseases from domestic animals and become entrapped in nets, but hopes are that the monk seal can grow again with some immediate conservation efforts.
13) The Kakapo Parrot
There are now less than 150 kakapos parrots left in the wild. You can tell that number is low because the conservations have given each and every one of them an individual name.
At a hefty 4kg, the heaviest parrot in the world is also the only of its species unable to fly. Not a great trait when you’re trying to survive, and after humans introduced rats and cats to its native forest in New Zealand, the species significantly declined.
By 1970s, it was thought to be extinct, but small populations were later found and are now under breeding and protective programs by conservations.