The threat facing these species is unlike anything before. But instead of feeling helpless, do something! Every positive action counts! Conserve, recycle, donate, volunteer and preserve. There are countless organisations which you can get involved in.
Here are some of our planet’s most endangered animals and plants:
Half of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016 due to climate change.
Cheetahs: Thousands live in captivity and rehabbing them back into the wild is a complex process. They are still kept as pets in the Middle east.
Hunted for their tusks since the 14th century, the onslaught on elephants is taking its toll. Habitat loss and resulting human and animal conflict are also major problems.
The Asian species of pangolin are almost extinct, the African pangolins are now at the mercy of poachers for bogus medicinal use in the east. They are also hunted for bushmeat in Africa.
Read more here: World Pangolin Day
More tigers are in captivity in the US at 5000, then exist in the wild (3 200). They’ve also interbred Bengal and Siberian tigers, and also with lions in these captive situations, and these can never be released back into the wild. Loss of habitat and resulting human and animal conflict and poaching for its bones and skin for the far east are the main causes.
Shark finning for shark soup in the east and fishing nets have led to a drastic reduction in the number of sharks in our sea. The great white is listed as vulnerable and the whale shark as endangered, the Pondicherry Shark is critically endangered, among 12 other species of shark that fill these categories. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed annually.
A victim of climate change, the polar bear has to swim further to find food due to melting ice, as well as warming waters negatively affecting its prey.
Read more here: World Polar Bear Day
Giraffes are quietly heading for extinction due to poaching and habitat loss. Joburg East Express Amanda Coetzee reports that ‘the Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group established under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission recognizes a single species of giraffe with nine subspecies. Giraffes currently inhabit 21 African countries, having been eradicated from at least seven countries in their historical range. Some remaining populations are stable or increasing, while others are declining. Two subspecies of giraffes were recently added to the list of ‘critically endangered’ species for the first time ever, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which administers the world’s official endangered species list. Five of the nine subspecies of giraffe are declining in numbers, three are improving, and one is stable.’
Captured for the pet trade the African Grey has vastly diminished in the wild, with the majority existing in captivity. According to The Dodo, ‘China, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, have continued to import wild African grey parrots and sell them to consumers, which has placed a continual demand on wild populations in Africa’, although it is illegal to do so in the US and the EU. ‘In Ghana alone, it’s estimated that 90 to 99 percent of African grey parrots have disappeared from the forests since the 1990s.’ It is mainly in the Congo Basin that these intelligent, sensitive birds are captured by glue traps. 40-50 percent die in transportation for the pet trade.
Hunted for bushmeat and muti and vulnerable to war conflicts, gorillas now exist in small pockets of rainforests around Africa such as Uganda and the DRC. Rangers are often killed protecting them from heavily armed poachers.
The wild dog or Painted Dog is one of Africa’s most endangered mammals, loss of habitat resulting in human animal conflict, are some of the things that are causing their struggle to survive.
Asia’s insatiable appetite for rhino horn which is claimed to be a cure for cancer and an aphrodisiac among other things, is causing huge losses to the rhino populations of Africa and Asia. The West African black rhino and two sub species of the Javan Rhino are extinct with a third critically endangered as only 35 survive. Only two Southern White rhinos are left in the world, both female.
Lions are being poached for their bones, due to demand in Asia for again bogus medicinal properties. They are also hunted by trophy hunters. They too suffer from habitat loss and resulting human and animal conflict.
In 1970 and ’71 10 orcas were captured from their ocean homes, five were those were sent to SeaWorld. Only Lolita still lives today, at the Miami Seaquarium, alone and imprisoned from her family ever since. A recent National Marine Fisheries Service report said, ‘The capture of killer whales for public display during the 1970s likely depressed their population size and altered the population characteristics sufficiently to severely affect their reproduction and persistence’.