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Humans are the greatest threat to the survival of endangered species through poaching, habitat destruction and the effects of climate change. The fact that humans have a hand in the total destruction and annihilation of some animals makes it more worrisome. Take for instance the passenger pigeon which numbered about 5 billion by the time of America’s discovery became extinct in 1914 due to excessive poaching. Factboyz has compiled the list of species that could hit extinction if care is not taken.
1. Amur Leopard: Since 1996, the amur leopard has been classified by the IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature) as Critically Endangered with less than 70 individuals thought to be existing today. It is hunted and killed for its beautiful fur, its habitat is being destroyed for human settlement and agricultural practices.
2. Gorillas: Cross River Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas are both classified as Critically Endangered and Endangered by the IUCN since 1996 – that is two out of the five gorilla subspecies. There are currently only 200-300 Cross River Gorillas left in the wild, and 900 Mountain Gorillas.
3. Sea Turtles: Two types of sea turtles are amongst the most endangered species in the world: the Hawksbill Turtle and the Leatherback Turtle.
In the past 100 years, the Hawksbill Turtle has lost 90 percent of its population, 80 percent of which has been lost in the past 10 years. As of 1996, the IUCN classified it as a critically endangered species. The Leatherback turtle is listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable, yet many subpopulations are facing extinction.
4. Orangutan: Since the 2000, the Sumatran Orangutan has been classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered with approximately 80% of the population lost in the past 75 years mainly as a result of mass deforestation. This awful trend continues to put pressure on the remaining population of 6,600 Sumatran Orangutans that are estimated to remain on this earth.
5. Sumatran Elephant: In the past 25 years, the Sumatran Elephant has lost an astounding 70% of its habitat to deforestation for palm oil plantations, agriculture and human settlements. Less than 2000 are estimated to exist and in 2011, the Sumatran Elephant was classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered.
6. Saola: The saola was discovered in May 1992 during a joint survey carried out by the Ministry of Forestry of Vietnam and WWF in north-central Vietnam. The team found a skull with unusual long, straight horns in a hunter’s home and knew it was something extraordinary. The find proved to be the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years and one of the most spectacular zoological discoveries of the 20th century. Yet already, this elusive and beautiful animal been deemed by the IUCN to be Critically Endangered and is one of the rarest large mammals to exist on Planet Earth.
7. Vaquila: Vaquita, the world’s most rare marine mammal, is on the edge of extinction. This little porpoise wasn’t discovered until 1958 and a little over half a century later, we are on the brink of losing them forever. Vaquita are often caught and drowned in gillnets used by illegal fishing operations in marine protected areas within Mexico’s Gulf of California. The population has dropped drastically in the last few years.
With less than 100 thought to exist, the Vaquita is the rarest marine mammal in the world. Time is running out for these elusive little sea porpoises, with extinction predicted as soon as 2018.
8. Tiger: The tiger has long been hunted for its distinctive patterned fur. Of the nine tiger subspecies, three are already extinct, many are endangered but it is the South China Tiger and the Sumatran Tiger that currently face the biggest threat to their survival.
Tragically, the South China Tiger is thought to be extinct in the wild as it hasn’t been spotted since the 1970s. The Sumatran Tiger is the only surviving tiger subspecies indigenous to Indonesia and as of 2008 it has been classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered. Less than 500 of these tigers exist today in comparison with a population estimation of up to 1,000 in 1978.
9. Rhinoceros: Three of the five species in the family of Rhinocerotidae, are among the most endangered species in the world: the Black Rhino, the Javan Rhino and the Sumatran Rhino. The Javan Rhino is the most threatened with extinction with the total population of only 60 surviving in one National Park in Java, Indonesia. The Sumatran Rhino is Critically Endangered. It has been estimated that less than 100 exist today in the wild. The Black Rhino is classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered with three subspecies declared extinct in 2011.
10. Pangolin: Despite their tough appearance, these small, creatures are considerably lost in large numbers; thanks to poachers All eight species of pangolin are under threat, ranging from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered. They are the most trafficked animal in the world, hunted for their scales which can be sold on the black market for up to $3,000/kg.
Jayamma Abanobi is a youth blogger passionate about writing. He can be reached via email email@example.com