Should we dismiss the fact that each and every day another species of animal is brought closer to its doom as a natural inevitability or as man-kinds greatest shame? The argument has raged on for generations now, and for those of you still sat on the fence- I hope this list of near extinct species brings a little clarity to your opinion, whether you remain adamant on the issues subjectivity or otherwise.
10. Golden-Headed Langur
Native to the dense Asian jungle environment of Vietnam’s vast countryside, the Golden-Headed Langur was placed in protection in the year 2000 as a result of being brought to extinctions door-step. Though there are only around 70 of the creatures left on the planet, their protected status has done them some good- with numbers slowly but surely rising since this time. Nonetheless, the primates are still in danger of being wiped out completely in the wild as a result of hunting. My minds pretty much made up about these poor souls, from a population in the multiple thousands in the 1960’s to just 53 by 2000- it’s clear to see that a certain conflict in the region may have had something to do with this barbaric decline.
An already rare creature, the Vaquita is a species of Porpoise indigenous to the Gulf of Mexico/California. It is estimated that anywhere between 40 and 80 Vaquitas are accidentally killed each year as a result of gill net fishing in the region. As well as this human element, the cetaceans are put at risk further by their own climatic limitations- as they are only able to survive in the warmer temperatures akin to such intensive fishing- they cannot be introduced elsewhere. It is estimated there are only around two or three hundred left in the wild.
8. Silky Sifafka
Another primate very much at risk is the Silky Sifafka, a species of Lemur native to the north-eastern rainforests of Madagascar. Hunted by local people for their meat for generations, population numbers have been dangerously low for some time now. The animal’s inability to pro-create whilst in captivity only complicates matters further, as well as the fact that the remaining few hundred or so creatures and their up-until-recently protected home has now been abandoned by those striving to protect the species as a result of on-going political turmoil in the area.
7. Iberian Lynx
This impressive wild-cat used to be indigenous in its thousands throughout both Spain and Portugal, though can now only be found in certain areas of the former. The illegal introduction of Myxomatosis in France in the 1950’s soon spread to wipe out a vast majority of the rabbits throughout Spain too, leaving the Lynx without a primary food source. This tragedy combined with increased loss of habitat and a long history of hunting and trapping has brought the species estimated population down to 100-150.
6. Giant Panda
Perhaps the most promoted cause in relation to the preservation of endangered species, the plight of the Giant Panda is known to many around the world. Indigenous to Asian forest reasons in China, Burma and Vietnam- the Giant Panda has noted a dramatic yet steady decline for some time now. Destruction of habitat has brought their numbers down to well below 2000 in total, a large percentage of which are kept in captivity. Though seemingly unhappy about being encouraged to breed when in captivity- the bears appear to be hanging on.
5. Borneo Pygmy Elephant
Native to northern Borneo, the Pygmy Elephant stands around half a meter shorter than its Asian neighbour. It would seem this missing height would account too for a lower level of wisdom for which Elephants are famous. This lack of brainpower may be to blame for the species diminishment as a result of overcrowding, or it could be the constantly expanding amount of manmade palm plantations eating into their habitat that’s acting as a catalyst for the issue.
4. Mekong Giant Catfish
It’s a tough break being a highly sought after species of animal. Being intriguing or breath-taking enough to be constantly pursued by humans in the name of sport can surely only be taken as a compliment up until a certain point. These amazing creatures can be found in the rivers of Southeast Asia, though it is estimated that just a few hundred remain as a result of overfishing. Even though they’re protected in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia- their decline continues- leading many to estimate they’ll be extinct before we know it.
3. Javan Rhinoceros
Numbered recently at fewer than 60, extinction is not only a very real prospect for this majestic mammal- but one that is closing in very quickly. Native to Indonesia and Vietnam, a combination of poachers killing the creature for its prized horn and developers constantly depleting its habitat in the name of good business means that the Javan Rhinos days are likely numbered.
2. Cross River Gorilla
This former king of the forest is now numbered at ‘fewer than 300’ in the jungles of Nigeria and Cameroon which it once called home. In an all too familiar series of events, consistent hunting for bush meat has combined with human interest influenced habitat depletion to bring this mighty species to its knees. Though it was believed the Cross River Gorilla was completely extinct in the 1980’s, more were discovered soon after and here’s hoping they can hold on and continue to flourish.
1. Sumatran Tiger
Classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008, the Sumatran Tiger has been exclusively native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra for an estimated time of one million years. As the only surviving species from the Sunda Island big cats (including both the Bali tiger and the Javan tiger), the Sumatran tiger has been effected greatly by human development in the last century or so. Though a large proportion of the estimated 600 cats that remain live in protected captivity, it is believed around 1/5 remain in the dangers of the wild.