Human Civilization has come a long way. Today we have successfully paved our path to Mars. Scientific progress has transformed our lives and the face of the world. But with the unbelievable progress comes the haunting downside, and we can’t unsee the reality. Once an abode filled with greenery has been replaced by towering tall complexes. The result is a loud cry for help from nature. According to reports, the numbers of animals that have gone extinct are in some millions. Today, the list of endangered species runs down to 16,306; which included both plants and animals. The list below is to provide information about the 10 most endangered animals.
The thick creamy coat covered with spots all over; make Amur Leopard look extremely majestic. However, the major reason for their poaching is also the same. Today there are less than 80 of them alive, which makes Amur Leopards one of the animals that could disappear forever. One of the biggest cats in the world are territorial in nature and only interact with the while mating. They prey on musk deer, wild boar, hares, raccoon dogs and etcetera. They are extremely fast and can run up to 37 miles per hour. The population of Amur is low due to habitat destruction and mass poaching.
Javan comes from Java, and as the name suggests, Javan Rhinos are found in Java, Indonesia. Also known as the lesser one-horned rhinoceros, these are small, having grey or grey-brown skin and a horn which is less than 20cm. Once Javan Rhinoceros was found in Borneo, Sumatra, Assam and eastern Bengal. However, habitat destruction, poaching and loss of agriculture have led to putting them in the list of endangered animals. Today, the remaining population of Javans is confined to Ujung Kulon National Park.
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3.LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLES
Almost all the sea turtles are considered endangered since they are poached and over-exploited on a rampant scale for their skin, meat, eggs and shells. The climate change adds up to this. However, leatherback sea turtles are the most endangered among all. From 1,15,000 nesting females in 1980; the number has drastically fallen to 34,000-36,000 of them left worldwide. The leatherback sea turtle is the only turtle with softshell. Its shell is composed of a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin which is strengthened by tiny bone plates, thus the leathery appearance. They have a delicate, scissor-like jaw. So their major diet is jellyfish. The major threat to them is marine pollution and commercial fishery, among others.
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Ever wondered about an animal whose DNA is 97% similar to that of humans, well its Orangutan for you. These extremely patient, intelligent and observant great apes are critically endangered. The major reasons leading to the loss of population for both Sumatran and Bornean species are palm oil plantation, fires and poaching. The farmers illegally kill Orangutans when they enter their site of the plantation. While the fact is Orangutan are extremely sociable. In Malay and Indonesian, ‘Orang’ refers to ‘person’ and ‘Utan’ is from the word ‘human’ which means forest; which means the apes are called people of the forest.
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Again an animal that shares almost 98% of DNA with us, Mountain Gorillas are found in just three places in the world, Virunga Massif and the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Living in the high altitude montane and bamboo forests at 1500-4000 metre elevation, Mountain Gorillas feed on leaf, stem and shoots. Since they are closely related to humans, each one of them carries a unique identity; which is their nose print. However, being closely related to human makes them vulnerable to diseases just like humans. They are poached and affected by habitat loss. All these have led to Mountain Gorillas being critically endangered.
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The past 78 years has seen a tragic fall in the population of Asian Elephants, which is nearly 50 per cent. The Asian Elephants are Earth’s largest land animals. They are slightly smaller than their counterpart: African Elephants. And have small, rounded ears. Found in India and throughout Southeast Asia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Elephants are considered as one of the most intelligent mammals on the planet. Their long tusk makes them the most glorious. However, Asian Elephants are mostly poached for their ivory tusks which are sold illegally at an extremely high price. Elephants are further killed for their skin and trafficked for the tourism trade. The habitat loss adds up more to the already degraded situation.
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The top predator and one of the amazing animals in the game, Tiger is the majestic one in the jungle. They are dynamic in every aspect. The largest among the cat species, they stalk their prey and hunt alone. The males weigh up to 660 pounds and are heavier than females. They are fast. But not everything goes well. There is a high rate of juvenile mortality, death due to habitat loss, poaching etcetera. Illegal hunting is primarily one for skin, fur, meat and bones; making Tigers endangered. It is also listed as one of the best land animals in the world.
Vaquita is the world’s smallest cetacean and the most endangered out of the 128 marine animals. Since 1997, there has been a decline of 92% in their population, with only 30 of them alive today. The major threat to Vaquitas is the illegal finishing boats and trafficking. In 2005, the Vaquita Refugee area was created for safety. This banned the use of surface gillnets, which captured them accidentally.
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The Saola is one of the rarest large animals on Earth. Belonging to the sole species of a genus of Bovids and came under the radius of science only in 1992. The Saola’s environment is as unique as the species itself. They are found only in one place, that is, the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam. Even though they are called Asian unicorn; they have two parallel horns with sharp ends. The Saola is on the verge of extinction today, the main reason is poaching and their small size.
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Image Source: Global Wildlife Conservation (Flickr)
Pangolin is the most trafficked non-human mammal on Earth. There are four species of Pangolin, four found in Asia and four in Africa. Pangolins are mainly poached and killed for their scales. The scale is made up of keratin, thus there stays a high demand for illegal killing. Just like Rhino horns, the pangolin scales are used for medicinal uses, even if there is no evidence to prove the benefits. They are also killed for meat. Pangolins are shy, harmless and solitary in nature. They are secretive too, thus little has been known about their behaviour.
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Even if critically endangered, these animals have the hope of being saved from extinction, only if conservation is done before time and the factors leading to their depletion is kept under check.