8 Majestic but Critically Endangered Mammals

gorilla-elephant-wolf-polar-bear

(Part 1 in a 5-Part Exclusive WebEcoist Series on Endangered Animals)

Scientists say that an astonishing 1 in 4 mammals worldwide are in critical danger (either threatened or endangered) – not just the polar bears we all hear so much about. The top ten most endangered mammals are: the Yangtze River Dolphin, Vancouver Island Marmot, Seychelles Sheath-Tailed Bat, Javan Rhinoceros, Hispid Hare, Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat, Dwarf Water Buffalo, Iberian Lynx, Red Wolf and Dwarf Blue Sheep. But there are hundreds more beautiful mammals that are either ecologically distinct, increasingly rare, or critically threatened. Here are just a few incredible animals, captured in breathtaking photography and video footage.

Included in this gallery are the polar bear, western lowland gorilla, Iberian lynx, red wolf, African elephant,  fishing cat, Bactrian camel and white tiger. Each gallery image contains more information about each of the endangered mammal species featured below. Click to enlarge:

Mammals are threatened for several reasons: global warming is causing climate change, which leads to loss of habitat, changes in the food supply, and other conditions animals cannot rapidly adapt to. Another frequent cause of endangerment is deforestation, as indigenous peoples slash and burn forest land to raise crops for biofuels or other cash crops. Poaching is still a problem in many places of the world. And when an animal lower on the food chain becomes threatened due to pollution, climate change, or other factors, larger mammals find it increasingly difficult to survive due to the reduction in food supply.

In this amazing video, two male gorillas fight.

A UGA student tour in Africa has an exciting brush with an elephant herd.

We must learn how to balance human demand for resources with important issues like pollution, global warming, deforestation, desertification and other conditions that are having a harmful impact upon major animal populations. This series will explore how such factors are affecting all animals, including reptiles, fish, birds and amphibians.

Main image sources: gorilla, polar bear, elephant, wolf

Gallery image sources: polar bear, western lowland gorilla, Iberian lynx, red wolf, African elephant, fishing cat, Bactrian camel, white tiger

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