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Top Ten Critically Endangered Animals

posted May 7, 2015, 5:15 AM by Unknown user

Jessica Lawrence


  1. Amur Leopard

A rare subspecies, the amur leopard has adapted to life in the temperate forests that make up the northern-most part of the species’

range in the Russian Far East.  Known as the world’s rarest cat, the amur leopard’s population consists of approximately 60 individuals, and averages a life of 10-15 years in the wild.
  1. Black Rhino

Poaching is the number one reason for the endangerment of many species today, and during the 20th century it was especially problematic.  European settlers arrived in Africa during the early 1900s to colonize the land and establish farms and plantations, but not without the brutal, senseless continuation of the slaughtering to these innocent animals.  For this reason there are less than 5,000 black rhinos left in the world, and bringing the population back to what it once was is proving more difficult than expected.

  1. Cross River Gorilla

Due to the wariness of these gorillas, scientists have been unable to count many of the cross river gorillas directly.  Researches have recently used indirect signs, like counting nests, to estimate the number of these creatures and have determined there are only 200 to 300 of these gorillas left in the world.  Cross river gorillas are scattered in at least 11 groups across the lowland montane forests of Cameroon and Nigeria, only twice the size of Rhode Island.

  1. Hawksbill Turtle

With 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.  Hawksbills are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and seagrass beds.
  1. Javan Rhino

As the most threatened of the five rhino species, the javan rhino has as few as 35 surviving individuals in Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia.  Javan rhinos were killed by trophy hunters during the colonial times.  Poaching remains an ever-present threat and ultimately was the reason for the wipeout of the javan rhinos in Vietnam in 2010.

  1. Leatherback Turtle

Leatherback turtles are the largest sea turtle species and also one of the most migratory, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Pacific leatherbacks migrate from nesting beaches in the Coral Triangle to the California coast to feed on the abundant jellyfish every summer and fall.  Numbers of these turtles have seriously declined during the last century due to intense egg collection and fisheries bycatch, most commonly found in Southeast Asia as a culture of legal egg collecting.

  1. Mountain Gorilla

Thicker fur helps these gorillas survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing; but as humans have increasingly moved into their territory, the gorillas have been pushed farther up into the mountains for longer periods, forcing them to endure dangerous and deadly conditions.  Despite an encroaching human population and poaching, mountain gorillas have increased their numbers in recent years, though there are still less than 1,000 of them.
  1. Pangolin

Often referred to as “scaly anteaters” because of their preferred diet and outward appearance, pangolins are increasingly victims of illegal wildlife crime in Asia and Africa for their meat and scales.  There are eight pangolin species, and all are protected under national and international laws, and two are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

  1. Saola

Often called the Asian unicorn, little is known about the saola since it’s discovery in 1992.  None exist in captivity and this rarely-seen mammal is already critically endangered.  They are found only in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos.
  1. South China Tiger

The South China tiger population was estimated to number 4,000 in the 1950s.  Throughout the next several decades thousands were killed as the subspecies was hunted as a pest.  The Chinese government banned hunting in 1979, and by 1996 the population was estimated to be just 30-80 individuals.  Today the South China tiger is considered by scientist to be “fundamentally extinct,” as it has not been sighted in the wild for almost three decades.

Photos courtesy of: www.worldwildlife.org (fair use)

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