Photo Credit: Frontier
We’ve all heard of the stories of wild tigers being hunted for fur and medicine, or African Elephants poached for their tusks but what species do we need to be looking towards in the new year?
When animals become at risk of extinction, they are considered ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’ if it becomes dire. Extinction means a complete removal of the species from the world’s environmental system. WWF has compiled a list of the current endangered species and their extent of the danger so we can see species like the Fin Whale or the Black Spider Monkey may no longer exist on the planet if nothing changes.
Where the world population reaches over 7 billion today and is expected to hit over 10 billion in 2050, it’s no surprise that humans are a major cause in the endangering of wildlife. Whether it’s the effects of deforestation, poaching or natural causes such as a loss of habitat or genetic variation, these animals are in ominous danger of being extinct.
Where this mammal is one of the oldest in the world it’s now considered critically endangered. You can find this species across Africa where it plays an important role in countries like Namibia and Zimbabwe where the are a source of ecotourism where travelers often opt for a trip on a Black Rhino Conservation project to actively effect the course of this endangered animal. Poaching is a big threat to the black rhino (much alike many other endangered animals) where their horns are involved in illegal activities as a source of trade. One of the main points of this poaching is the reaction to Asian medicinal uses, where the horns become an ingredient for remedial use.
Known for their pointed beak, this is where the Hawksbill gets its name. Found throughout tropical oceans among sea anemones and jellyfish, this specific species of sea turtle is highly threatened by trade of wildlife. Where laws have been put in place, this trade is still ongoing in the tropics where their shells are fought for jewelry and ornamental souvenirs. Found often in the national parks of Costa Rica, due to its warm climate, and lay on the coasts where many conservationists study and help to maintain the habitats for these turtles in Sea Turtle Conservation programs.
This Elephant is most obviously found in Asia and is commonly known as the animal of Thailand and is found in Hindu mythology as well as lingering in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and many other Asian countries. They are a central figure in the tourism of these countries and are found in sanctuaries all around this area, where tourists can join onto a Thailand Elephant Care project to assist in the conservation of these animals. Some sanctuaries should be avoided where the central ethics are wrong as a money-making institution but every traveler should do their research into the sustainability of the sanctuary. Where much of the elephant’s life is found feeding on grass and tree, Asian Elephants can also be found in groups, joining in herds. Much of the elephant’s life has been cut with the development of human settlements and large projects which have destroyed natural habitats. With this, the elephants have been found to destroy human property and this conflict between man and elephant has become one of the leading causes of the reduction of elephants.
The Blue Whale was previously sent to extinction in the late 1800s when commercial whaling cost the lives of this whale. Soon after, in 1966 the whale was protected in a policy of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. This large animal – the largest in the world in fact – can weigh over 200 tons. Communication is heard through their calls which can reach 188 decibels, heard for miles and the low frequency of their voices is what is used to contact other blue whales. The rising toxicity of the oceans has become a major impact on the sustainability of the whale where habitats are ruined as well as getting stuck in fishing gear. Many projects are working on ways to help the oceans, such as Beach Conservation in Madagascar and Marine Life and Diving Research to work closer to the animals.
So, is there anything we can do to help these animals? Of course, with small steps. From supporting local species and visiting national protected parks to picking up litter and making your home wildlife friendly, there are easy steps to take to adapt your lifestyle to support the ecosystems. Where you can, take part in conservation projects and look towards reputable charities that positively affect the natural environment.