10 beautiful animals highlighted on Endangered Species Day

20 May 2016

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We’re consistently told of the human impact on wildlife around the world, be they on land, in the oceans or in the air. Here are 10 species really up against it on Endangered Species Day.

Endangered Species Day is a state-led initiative to highlight wildlife – as well as wild places – in the US, with the likes of zoos, conservation groups, education facilities and special pop-up tours drumming up interest in specific animals.

Endangered species

Of course, endangered species are a cross-border concern, so, with the US looking nationally, we thought we’d take an international gander, with the World Wildlife Fund’s always excellent resource the go-to guide.

Below are 10 animals either endangered or critically endangered throughout the world, with some WWF information on each one.

Black Rhino

Black rhino (Diceros bicornis) critically endangered, via Shutterstock Endangered Species

Black rhino (Diceros bicornis) critically endangered, via Shutterstock

WWF launched an international effort to save wildlife in 1961, rescuing black rhinos – among many other species – from the brink of extinction. Conservation efforts have helped the total number of black rhinos grow from 2,410 in 1995 to 4,880 in 2010.

Amur Leopard

Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) critically endangered, via Shutterstock Endangered Species

Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) critically endangered, via Shutterstock

WWF lobbied the Russian government to create a ‘safe haven’ for Amur Leopards since the start of this millennium, with Land of the Leopard National Park finally created in 2012. It includes all of the Amur leopard’s breeding areas and about 60pc of the critically endangered cat’s remaining habitat. The park is also home to 10 endangered Amur tigers.

Mountain Gorilla

Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) critically endangered, via Shutterstock

Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) critically endangered, via Shutterstock

Over half of the world’s mountain gorilla population live in Virunga National Park in Africa.  When refugees entered the park to flee a war zone, WWF and the UN purchased emergency fuel wood supplies so that the people were less likely to look to the park as a fuel source. And as the park recovers from civil unrest, WWF has worked to reforest areas and fund anti-poaching patrols.

Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) critically endangered, via Shutterstock

Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) critically endangered, via Shutterstock

One of the WWF’s main targets in the protection of the Hawksbill Turtle is to encourage fisheries to use ‘turtle-friendly’ hooks, as well as special nets. It advocates satellite monitoring of migrations, too, so that specific environments can be protected.

Asian Elephant

Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) endangered, via Shutterstock

Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) endangered, via Shutterstock

With up to 50,000 Asian Elephants left, WWF’s work is all about geography in this instance. It is currently trying to reconnect a dozen protected areas after biological corridors degraded beyond use, it’s hoped more national parks like Tesso Nilo in Sumatra get involved in conservation efforts.

Black Spider Monkey

Spider Monkey (Ateles paniscus) endangered, via Shutterstock

Black Spider Monkey (Ateles paniscus) endangered, via Shutterstock

The black spider monkey – also known as the Guiana or red-faced spider monkey – is found in eastern South America in areas north of the Amazon river. Supporting forestry initiatives is the WWF’s primary tool in this battle.

Tiger

Tiger (Panthera tigris) endangered via Shutterstock

Tiger (Panthera tigris) endangered via Shutterstock

Wild tiger populations have plummeted by 97pc in the past 100 or so years, with India’s mangroves, Russia’s snow-covered plains and south-east Asia’s dense rainforests down to their final 3,200. The WWF’s Mike Baltzer, though, is hoping to reverse that trend.

Napoleon Fish

Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulates) endangered, via Shutterstock

Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulates) endangered, via Shutterstock

The Humphead Wrasse, also known as the Napoleon fish, is wonderful looking. Living into their third decade, the coral roamers dine on shellfish. In Malaysia, WWF helped to stop the export of this important fish. Repopulating protected coral reefs with wrasses that were formerly intended for sale through a buyback programme with local fishermen, almost 200 a year are returned to the reefs.

Giant Panda

Giant panda eating bamboo (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) endangered, via Shutterstock

Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) endangered, via Shutterstock

Despite being one of the most recognisable animals on the planet – and the logo of the WWF – there are less than 2,000 pandas in the wild. The fact there are so few predators for them makes that number a bit crazy. WWF’s main role in China is to assist and influence policy-level conservation decisions through information collection, demonstration of conservation approaches, communications and capacity building.

Galápagos Penguin

Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) endangered, via Pete/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) endangered, via Pete/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

There are less than 2,000 Galápagos Penguins estimated to be remaining in the wild, one of many species native to the famous islands that have fallen on hard times. This is the only penguin species found north of the equator and in the Galápagos.

Main image of tigers via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com