15 of Earth's Most Endangered Species
Yesterday's news that the world's last male northern white rhino had become "functionally extinct" sent shockwaves throughout the world of animal conservation, and to anyone with an inkling of respect for nature.
Describing the news as a "uniquely bad situation", Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at conservation charity WWF, was no doubt left wondering if other animals facing near-extinction would soon follow suit.
With that in mind, here are 15 animals most threatened with extinction.
1. Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
One of the most endangered species known to man, the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker resides in the Southeastern US and certain areas of Cuba.
Noted for its long woodpecker, the species is believed to be down to a meagre number, and sightings-while reported- have never fully be verified by experts. In 2008, a reward of $50,000 was even offered by the Nature Conservancy to a person who could lead a project biologist to a living ivory-billed woodpecker.
2. The Amur Leopard
Native to Russia’s Primorye region, you will not find the lithe, exotic Amur leopard anywhere else. Snowy and often well below freezing, the habitat is perfect for this endangered species thanks to its thick and spoty coat.
Once found in Korea and China, the leopard no longer resides there due to a plethora of factors, which include the all-too-real threat of poaching, the construction of new roads, poaching of prey, and forest fires. The rarest big cat in the world, Census records show there are only around 20 adult Amur leopards in existence.
While there are over 100 different species of Lemur, every kind is endangered. Calling the tropical, African Island of Madagascar home, they remain a huge draw for tourists, but spotting them in their local habitat is increasingly rare.
Bizarrely, they are not yet on the critically endangered species list, despite their sighting being rare.
Vaquita belongs to the porpoise species. Since tracking on them was enabled, figures have shown population declines of 15-25% a year since 1945.
There are only 500-600 species left, found in the Gulf of California, between Mexico and Baja California. Climate change is thought to be a contributing factor of their decline due to the adverse impact weather changes have had on their habitat and source of food.
5. Mountain Gorilla
Conservationists predict that between 302-408 mountain gorillas remain in this world, which makes the beautiful species one of the most endangered in the world.
While volatile and unpredictable, mountain gorillas, who reside in certain parts of Africa, aren't necessarily a threat to humans in the way people imagine them to be, but because of this ill-informed stereotype, poachers have had little guilt in hunting them down over the years.
6. Siberian Tiger
The Siberian Tiger is officially the world's largest cat. Some can even weigh as much as 650 pounds! Possessing a similar habitat to the Amur leopard, Siberian tigers can be found in the Siberian forest of Russia and also further east, in rural China and Korea.
Wintertime temperatures are among some of the coldest on Earth. On some nights, the temperature can plummet to -50 degrees F. Yet despite the conditions, poachers have still ravaged the species and rendered it almost extinct, despite it being illegal to hunt a Siberian tiger.
While protective measures have helped somewhat, the animal's population remains in the low 500s.
7. Giant Chinese Salamander
As the world’s biggest amphibian, the Giant Chinese Salamander can grow to an astonishing 6 feet in length. Native to China's most rural regions, Giant Chinese Salamanders are famous for their breeding habits due to being capable of laying 500 egg at once.
The eggs are typically nestled in underwater burrows, and while the Chinese Giant Salamander has no predators, eating them has become increasingly popular in recent years, and thus they are significantly endangered.
8. The Dodo Bird
Not to be confused with the extinct Dodo, the Dodo Bird is native to Samoa and is diminutive in shape, measuring a mere 12 inches in length.
Also known as the tooth-billed pigeon, there are only a few hundred remaining across the Samoan islands of the South Pacific due to habitat loss, hunting and increased ownership in domesticated pigs, dogs and cats. Sadly, the tooth-billed pigeon is deemed critically endangered and is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
9. The Saola
Also known as the Asian unicorn (yes, really) the Saola is hard to come by nowadays due to its Critically endangered status. Bearing a similar resemblance to various antelope, Saolas can be found-if you're lucky enough to spot one- between Laos and Vietnam.
It is characterized by its small horns white patches on its face. While only discovered in 1992, Saolas are rarely seen in the wild.
Like the aforementioned Vaquita, the Baiji is an aquatic animal listed among most endangered species list. The Baiji is typically spotted among the Yangtze River in China, which causes locals to call it the Yangtze River Dolphin.
Sadly, only three Yangtze River Dolphins were found in a 2007 expedition, which is mainly due to the vast fleet of fishing trawlers, transport ships and hydroelectricity systems that come into contact with the species.
While being regarded by local fisherman as the goddess of protection, efforts to preserve the species have failed, despite the creation of natural reserves along the middle and lower areas of the Yangtze River.
11. Black Rhinoceros
Conservationists are so worried about the status of Black Rhinoceroses that its name has already been registered in the list of endangered species that are going to be extinct forever.
As you may have read in the news, the last North male white rhinoceros recently became extinct, while only a few thousand black rhinoceros are left. Poaching is believed to be the primary reason for this owing to the lucrative market value of their horns, which are used as medicines and aphrodisiacs by the Chinese.
12. The Javan Rhinoceros
Another species of Rhinoceros, the Javan rhino is even more endangered than its sister species, the Black rhino. In fact, there is estimated to be a mere 40 to 60 still alive today.
These surviving species of rhinoceroses roam the jungles of Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park and are endangered because of their horns, so much so that national park rangers monitor many of these animals around the clock.
13. North Atlantic Right Whale
The most endangered of the whale species, the beautiful mammal is found roaming the Atlantic coasts of Canada and the US.
While around 350 different whales still travel these seas, the Northern Atlantic right whale's numbers only seem to be on the decline.
14. Cross River Gorilla
Prodemniatley living in and around the southern Cameroon-Nigerian border, only 300 Cross River Gorillas remain due to the proliferation of illegal hunting.
As well as the endemic problem of poachers, a changing climate and increased demand from logging companies for wood have meant that the habitats of Cross River Gorillas have been significantly damaged.
15. Leatherback Sea Turtle
The majestic Leatherback Sea Turtle is the most prominent turtle swimming Earth's waters and can be found cruising the entire globe, though they tend to gravitate to the warmer waters of the tropics.
However, while they may be spread across the seven seas, they are highly endangered. Figures estimated that there was once 120,000 adult female leatherback sea turtles- today there are only 20,000.
Theft of eggs by humans on popular beach resorts and illegal hunting are two of the most cited reasons for this.