Brace yourself, things are about to get depressing. Every year, at least 10,000 species go extinct. This rapid loss of endangered species is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate, or the rate of species extinctions that would occur if we humans were not around, according to the World Wildlife Foundation. Recently, 5 new species have been added to the endangered species list, and while it’s not too late, the future looks somber for these species.
5. The Pinta Island Tortoise
The first addition to the endangered species list is the Pinta Island tortoise, or Chelonoidis abingdonii. Located in Ecuador, this subspecies appeared to die off a long time ago. But, a 2007 expedition to Isabella Island proved otherwise. Once frequently kept on ships for food, Galapagos tortoises were dumped off when they were no longer needed.
According to Popular Mechanics, Isabella Island was one of the most popular dumping grounds, making it likely that several Pinta Island tortoises hide within the depths of the island. “So far, a total of 17 hybrids have been found, and future expeditions could yield more, and maybe even find the parent of those hybrid reptiles,” according to Popular Mechanics.
4. Amur Leopard
While most leopards are thought to live in the savannas of Africa, a rare subspecies had adapted to the temperate forests in the Russian Far East. But while this subspecies once thrived, Amur leopard numbers are now down to a mere 84 individuals.
According to the World Wildlife Foundation, “the Amur leopard is poached largely for its beautiful, spotted fur. The forests are relatively accessible, making poaching a problem—not only for the leopards themselves, but also for important prey species such as roe deer, sika deer and hare, which are hunted by the villagers both for food and cash.” While this species’ critically endangered state is grim, it’s not impossible to bring them back. With the right efforts, the long-term conservation of the region can be ensured.
3. Black Rhino
Between 1960 and 1996, black rhino numbers dropped by 98%, to less than 2,500 individuals in its species. Although that number has doubled from their all time low to 5,042 to 5,455 today, the black rhino is still considered critically endangered and one of the most threatened species to date, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.
The mighty black rhinos have two horns. This makes them large targets for the deadly act of poaching in countries like Vietnam and China who use them in folk remedies, according to WWF. While poaching numbers are at a slow decrease, the numbers of black rhinos poached per year remains unsustainably high. Bit by bit, the black rhino is disappearing from the world, making it crucial that the efforts to save the species are at an all time high.
2. Cross River Gorilla
Adding to the list of endangered species is Africa’s most endangered great ape, the Cross River gorilla. While the species is distributed across 11 sub-populations between Nigeria and Cameroon, the Cross River gorilla numbers fewer than 300 in the wild. That number makes them critically endangered, according to Cross River Gorilla. The Cross River gorilla is one of the 25 most endangered primates worldwide, according to the IUCN, making the species at a high risk of becoming extinct unless it is properly cared for.
1. Hawksbill Sea Turtle
The last addition to the list of endangered species is the hawksbill sea turtle. Currently in a critically endangered state, this subspecies is at risk due to mostly human impact, like many sea turtles. Hawksbills not only maintain the health of coral reefs, but they also remove prey such as sponges from the reef’s surface, so they provide better access for reef fish to feed. They also have cultural significance and tourism value, according to the World Wildlife Foundation. From their eggs being eaten around the world to being killed for their flesh and shells, these sea turtles are at a high risk of extinction according to WWF. Learn how we can help save the sea turtles on Oceana.
How Can We Help?
While thousands upon thousands of species become endangered each year, there are ways that we can help contribute to the protection of endangered species. Start by learning about the endangered species in your area, visiting a national wildlife refuge, or making your home wildlife friendly.
Helping out animals that are at risk of becoming endangered or are already there doesn’t have to be a difficult process! Simple acts like incorporating sustainable products into your life and slowing down while driving can serve as great steps towards promoting the well being of these animals. Find out more ways to help save endangered species on the Endangered Species Coalition.