Humans and animals co- exist on earth for a sustainable and balanced ecosystem. However, human intervention and encroachment has led to many species of animals becoming extinct and even more are in the brink of extinction.
Here are the top 10 critically endangered animals who might very soon be wiped out from our planet leading to a substantial loss to the ecosystem-
1. Amur Leopard (Panthera Pardus Orientalis )
HABITAT– Temperate, Broadleaf, and Mixed Forests
POPULATION– Approximately 84 individuals
ABOUT– Unlike the leopards in the Savannas of Africa, this rare subspecies in the Russian Far East, has adapted to life in the temperate forests that make up the northern-most part of the species’ range.
Much like the usual leopards, an Amur leopard can run at a speed of up to 59.5 kmph. They live for 10-15 years and up to 20 years in captivity. The Amur leopard is also known as the ‘Far East leopard’, the ‘Manchurian leopard’ or the ‘Korean leopard’.
2. Black Rhino (Diceros Bicornis )
HABITAT-Semi-Desert Savannah, Woodlands, Forests, Wetlands ; Namibia, East Africa
POPULATION– 5000- 5400
ABOUT– Rhinos are one of the oldest groups of mammals, virtually living fossils.
Black Rhinos are the smaller than the White Rhino . The key difference between the two African species is that the black Rhino has a hooked upper lip while the white Rhino has a square lip.
The population of Black Rhino declined drastically between 1960- 1995 at the hands of European hunters and settlers. The numbers dropped by a steep 98%. Since then though, the species has made a tremendous comeback from the brink of extinction owing to the persistent conservation efforts across Africa.
However it is still considered critically endangered. Wildlife crime—in this case, poaching and black-market trafficking of rhino horn—continues to plague the species and threaten its recovery.
3. Bornean Orangutan (Pongo Pygmaeus )
HABITAT– Lowland rainforests and tropical, swamp and mountain forests
POPULATION– Approx. 104,700
ABOUT– The Bornean orangutan differs from the Sumatran orangutan in appearance, with a broader face and shorter beard and also slightly darker in color.
Bornean orangutan populations have declined by more than 50% over the past 60 years, and the species’ habitat has been reduced by at least 55% over the past 20 years.
4. Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla Gorilla Diehli )
POPULATION– 200 to 300 individuals
ABOUT-This subspecies of the western gorilla is very similar in appearance to the more numerous western lowland gorilla, but subtle differences can be found in the skull and tooth dimensions.
Cross River gorillas live in a region populated by many humans who have encroached upon the gorilla’s territory—clearing forests for timber and to create fields for agriculture and livestock. Poaching occurs in the forests as well, and the loss of even a few of these gorillas has a detrimental effect on such a small population.
5. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys Imbricata )
HABITAT– Mesoamerican Reef, Coastal East Africa, Coral Triangle
POPULATION– Approx. 8000
ABOUT-Hawksbills are named for their narrow, pointed beak. They also have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a serrated-look on the edges. These colored and patterned shells make them highly-valuable and commonly sold as “tortoiseshell” in markets.
6. Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros Sondaicus )
HABITAT– Tropical forests (only in Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia)
POPULATION– 58- 68
ABOUT– Javan rhinos are the most threatened of the five rhino species, with only 58-68 individuals that live . Javan rhinos once lived throughout northeast India and Southeast Asia. Vietnam’s last Javan rhino was poached in 2010.
This species is a dusky grey color and has a single horn of up to about 10 inches. Its skin has a number of loose folds, giving the appearance of armor plating. The Javan rhino is very similar in appearance to the closely-related greater one-horned rhinoceros, but has a much smaller head and less apparent skin folds.
7. Malayan Tiger (Panthera Tigris Jacksoni )
HABITAT– Tropical moist broadleaf forests
POPULATION– 250- 340
ABOUT-Malayan tigers were classified as Indo- Chinese tigers until DNA testing in 2004 showed them to be a separate subspecies. Malayan tigers are found only on the Malay Peninsula and in the southern tip of Thailand. Another species that is facing extinction are the Sumatran tigers who are less than 400 in number.
8. Saola (Panthera Tigris Jacksoni )
HABITAT-Evergreen forests with little or no dry season (found only in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos)
POPULATION– According to 2001 reports, the population was estimated to be between 70 and 700 individuals, with current estimates favouring the lower range of this figure.
ABOUT-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. They are recognized by two parallel horns with sharp ends, which can reach 20 inches in length and are found on both males and females.
9. Sumatran Elephant (Elephas Maximus Sumatranus )
HABITAT– Broadleaf moist tropical forests
POPULATION– 2,400 – 2,800
ABOUT-Sumatran elephants feed on a variety of plants and deposit seeds wherever they go, contributing to a healthy forest ecosystem. They also share their lush forest habitat with several other endangered species, such as the Sumatran rhino, tiger, orangutan, and countless other species that all benefit from an elephant population that thrives in a healthy habitat.
10. Vaquita (Phocoena Sinus )
HABITAT– Marine (only in the northern Gulf of California)
POPULATION– Approx. 30
ABOUT-Vaquita is the world’s rarest marine mammal. Vaquita are often caught and drowned in gillnets used by illegal fishing operations in marine protected areas within Mexico’s Gulf of California. They are most often found close to shore in the Gulf’s shallow waters, although they quickly swim away if a boat approaches.
Every animal contributes essentially to the earth in ecological, economic and cultural aspects. It is important that we help maintain the balance in the nature and save the animals in need.
(From our archives)