Many of the animals around us which we can see today are nearing to extinction. The main fundamental cause of animal extinction in most recent times has been, without any reasonable doubt, human demand, either for animal resources directly, or for the natural resources constituting the animals’ habitats. Out of these numerous species i am hereby writing about the top 10 endangered species.
1. Giant panda: The giant panda, or panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally meaning “black and white cat-foot”) is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though carnivorous, 99% of their diet includes bamboo. Pandas in wild eat grass, wild tubersor even meat in form of rodents and birds. In captivity they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared feed.
Females give birth to cubs that are hairless and blind and weigh only 100g. Cubs depend on their mothers for about 18 months, and then it is time to find and establish its own territory. They use their scent glands beneath their tails for marking territory. Causes of their decline include destruction of habitat and poaching. And the panda is heavily dependent upon its main food source, bamboo, which is becoming rare in its habitat. In an effort to save this species, the World Wildlife Fund and the Chinese Ministry of Forestry have developed a conservation management plan outlining 14 new panda reserves and five corridors connecting patches of panda habitat. This species is also legally protected to prevent poaching.
Despite all the attention to its plight and international efforts to save the panda, there is a real risk that bamboo-lovers will become extinct.
2. Orang-Utan: they are the largest living arboreal animals,amongst the most intelligent primates with longer arms than other great apes. Their hair is typically reddish-brown, instead of the brown or black hair typical of other apes. Orangutans are solitary animals who spend most of their time up in trees. This is where they eat, sleep, and mate. The male orangutan is known as the “person of the forest,” in the Malay language. They are omnivores, although fruit is their favorite food. They also eat plants, honey, and small animals.
Loss of habitat is a big danger to orangutans as they rely on the forest for food and shelter. Much of their homelands are being destroyed by loggers who are cutting down the trees and by fires. In addition, even though orangutans are protected by law, baby orangutans are caught and sold illegally all over the world as pets. At this time, there are approximately 12,000 – 15,000 Bornean orangutans left. Far fewer are the Sumatran orangutans who only number about 3,000 – 5,000. Fortunately, organizations such as the Orangutan Conservancy and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme are working to help maintain a natural habitat for orangutans along with education and awareness raising, and the rehabilitation of orangutans.
3.Black rhino: The Black Rhinoceros or Hook-lipped Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), is a species of rhinoceros, native to the eastern and central areas of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Angola. Although the Rhino is referred to as black, it is actually more of a grey/brown/white color in appearance. The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) has been listed as Critically Endangered since 2001. Recent surveys into Cameroon have failed to find any signs of the West African subspecies (Diceros bicornis longpipes). It is likely that the ongoing political instability of the area has allowed poachers to remove the last of these rhinos. The remaining subspecies are increasing in number but still require protection.
Long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for treating high fevers, rhinoceros horn has also been carved into ornamental cups, bowls, and daggers. In the meantime, efforts to destroy stockpiles of rhinoceros horn have been defeated. Destruction of the stockpiles would make sales of poached rhino horn much more difficult since there would be no ‘legal’ stock with which to mix the poached specimens.
4.Indian white tiger: White tigers are a color morph of any subspecies of tiger whose fur is white or almost white, though it is not a separate subspecies. This coloration is caused by a recessive gene.There are only around 200 of the white tigers left in the world. White tigers are an Asian species, found from the frozen tundra of the Soviet Far East, south to the humid jungles of Malaya and Indonesia, and west to the hot, hardwood forests of India. There are five living subspecies; three others are already extinct. Current estimates put the world population of wild tigers at about 5,000-7,000, the most numerous race being the Bengal race, distributed among some 18 tiger reserves and sanctuaries of India (and a half-dozen in Nepal and Bangladesh), accounting for over two-thirds of all wild tigers.
Tigers are a protected species all over the world. Even though it’s completely illegal to hunt them, people are still slaying these beautiful creatures.
5. Giant armadillo: Armadillos are small placental mammals, known for having a leathery armor shell. Dasypodidae is the only surviving family in the orderCingulata, part of the superorder Xenarthra along with the anteaters and sloths. The word armadillo is Spanish for “little armored one”. This armoured mammal was once widespread in the tropical forests east of the Andes, from Venezuela to Argentina. The largest of the armadillos, the giant armadillo can grow up to 1.5 m in length and weigh up to 55 kg. They feed on ants, termites and the occasional snake.
The giant armadillo seems to have become scarce everywhere within its range because of overhunting, the expansion of settlement, and the corresponding loss of its forest habitat.
6. California condor : The California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a North American species of bird in the New World vulture family Cathartidae and the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and western coastal mountains of California and northern Baja California. It is a large, black vulture with patches of white on the underside of the wings and a largely bald head with skin color ranging from yellowish to a bright red, depending on the bird’s mood. It has the largest wingspan of any bird found in North America and is one of the heaviest. The condor is a scavenger and eats large amounts of carrion. It is one of the world’s longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 50 years.
The condor population began to quickly diminish as mankind began to invade their natural habitat. Condors often fall victim to gun shot and being captured by humans. The condor’s eggs began to be collected, causing less offspring to be hatched. Many condors are poisoned. As the condors eat animals that have been shot by humans, they become poisoned from the lead fragments of the bullets found within dead animals. They are also poisoned with bait. The condor’s food supply quickly decreased as man hunted their food supplies and took the carcasses.
7.lynx: A lynx is a medium-sized wildcat. The name “lynx” originated in Middle English via Latin from Greek word “lunx”, derived from the Indo-European root “*leuk-“, meaning “light, brightness”, in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes. Only two wild populations of Iberian lynx are considered viable at present. One is in Coto Donana National Park and the other is in the Sierra Morena. There has also been some recent evidence of the presence of a few lynx in the Montes do Toledo. The Iberian lynx separated from the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) about a million years ago, surviving largely on European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), a species well adapted to the harsh dry climate of Spain and Portugal. In autumn, rabbits make up 75-100% of the lynx’s diet. The rabbit population on the Iberian Peninsula has been decimated by two diseases- first myxomatosis, which was intentionally introduced into Europe in the 1950s, then Viral Hemorrhagic Pneumonia which arrived in the 1980s. While the death rates from both diseases are falling, habitat loss and increases in other predator species such as foxes, mongoose and genets are contributing to the slow recovery of the rabbit population.
The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) has been named the most endangered wild cat by the IUCN. It is feared that it may become the first wild cat to go extinct in nearly 2000 years. In a strange twist of fate, the loss of a common animal, the rabbit, has been a major contributing factor to the decline of the species. But habitat fragmentation also plays an important role, as does harassment by humans. Steps to recover the species include a captive breeding program, a rabbit population restoration project, public education programs and creation of reserves where Iberian lynx are protected.
8. Arakan forest turtle: The Arakan Forest Turtle (Heosemys depressa) is an extremely rare turtle species which lives only in the Arakan hills of western Myanmar. In May 2007, Zoo Atlanta, the only Arakan Forest turtle breeding facility in the world, announced the successful hatching of their fourth hatchling to have been born there in the last six years. They also announced that there is another egg near hatching, and two additional hatchlings did not survive. Arakan Forest turtles only mate once a year, and the eggs take 100 days to hatch.
The near-disappearance of these turtles is due to Asians using the turtle meat as an ingredient in cooking and medicine. Left alone these extremely rare turtles hopefully are on the rebound in Myanmar. Now we must do what we can to protect the remaining population.
9. Corroboree frogs : The Corroboree frogs are two species of small, ground dwelling frogs, native to Southern Tablelands of Australia. The two species are theSouthern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) and the Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi). The Southern Corroboree Frog was considered relatively numerous within its very small distribution in the 1970s, as of June 2004 it had an estimated adult population of 64. This species has suffered declines of up to 80% over the past 10 years. It is found only within a fragmented region of less than 10 km² within Mount Kosciuszko National Park in the Mountains in New South Wales. It is only found at 1300 m above sea level (Osborne 1989). It is currently listed as critically endangered and is considered to be one of, if not, Australia’s most endangered species. The Northern Corroboree Frog has not suffered as badly as the southern. It is more widely distributed across about 550 km² of the Brindabella and Fiery Ranges in Namadgi National Park, Australian Capital Territory, and Kosciuszko National Park and Buccleuch State Forest in New South Wales. It is found above about 1000m and is found to have higher population numbers at lower elevations. It has recently been downgraded from critical to endangered by the IUCN.
The predominant reason for the Corroboree Frogs’ decline is thought to be infection with the chytrid fungus. This fungus is believed to have been accidentally introduced to Australia in the 1970s and destroys the frogs’ skin, usually fatally. Corroboree frogs’ eggs appear to be immune. Frog populations may eventually be able to acquire immunity, as wild relatively healthy adults have been found with the fungus on their skin. Its convoluted breeding habits are in some way responsible for its current status. Most amphibians lay eggs directly into water, but not the Corroboree Frog (dig hole; call to females to lay eggs in hole; wait seven months; hope it rains enough to wash tadpoles to nearby pond).
10. The Tsamanian devil: The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae now found in the wild only in the Australian island state of Tasmania. The size of a small dog, it became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian devil’s large head and neck allow it to generate the strongest bite per unit body mass of any living mammal, and it hunts prey and scavenges carrion as well as eating household products if humans are living nearby. Although it is usually solitary, it sometimes eats with other devils and defecates in a communal location.
The devils’ disease is one of just two known cancers able to spread like a contagious disease, and is transmitted when one devil bites another. Large tumours form on the faces and necks of the animals, making it impossible for them to eat. Many of the afflicted animals subsequently die of starvation. Devil numbers are difficult to estimate, but state government figures suggest the animals may have plummeted from around 150,000 in the mid-1990s to between 20,000 and 50,000 by the end of 2006.
Most endangered species are endangered due to habitat loss. If we can preserve their habitats they will have the food and shelter they need to survive. Poaching, and invasive non-native plants and animals also contribute to extinction, so stopping these can help as well. Education is also key in helping save these animals.