Critical Condition: 12 Very Rare and Endangered Animals
(Images via: Lists O Plenty, ESA Blawg, Davo Trip, Fat Birder, Say I Am Green, Current, Flickr, The Age, The Website of Everything, Green Packs, Flickr, It’s Nature)
Last week the Wildlife Conservation Society released a report called The Rarest of the Rare, which detailed 12 animals that are “critically endangered” (i.e. “at an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild”). See what made the list of critically endangered animals, some of which have seen their populations decline by approximately 80 percent in the last 10 years.
Cuban Crocodile: Say Goodbye to My Hardly Little Friend?
(Images via: NGS, Flickr, Independent)
Reaching lengths of up to 11 feet, the Cuban crocodile has dwindled to an estimated population of 4,000, with some of these crocodiles likely hybrids of Cuban and American crocodiles. Illegal hunting that targets Cuban crocodile meat has been a large culprit in the decline of this species.
Florida Bonneted Bat: Not Extinct, But Close
(Images via: Tree Hugger, Bat Con, Animal Diversity, Bat Conservation)
The largest bat in the Sunshine State, the Florida bonneted bat was thought to be extinct until 2002, when a small colony was discovered in a suburb. Only 100 Florida bonneted bats are thought to exist today, with pesticide spraying and deforestation that has destroyed roosting sites believed to have clipped these bats known for their 21-inch wingspans.
Fungus Makes Green-Eyed Frogs Feel Green
(Image via: Davo Trip)
Once common in Costa Rica and Panama, the diminutive green-eyed frog is not only small in size (roughly 2.5 inches long) but population, with only a few hundred of these frogs still living today. Chytrid fungus and exposure to agricultural chemicals have killed and deformed these frogs.
Grenada Dove: A National Bird for How Long?
(Images via: OAS, Wildlife Extra, Life Afloat, Flickr)
Featured on postage stamps in this Caribbean island, the Grenada dove has been reduced to an estimated population of 150, with this pink-breasted, national bird severely impacted by habitat loss and the predatory introduction of mongooses, cats and rats. A 10-year recovery plan has been implemented to boost populations of the Grenada dove, which hopefully won’t become a thing of the past.
Hirola: Concern for the Spectacled Antelope
(Images via: Rufford Small Grants, Discovery, Wangui)
With white markings around the head, the African antelope known as the hirola or Hunter’s hartebeest looks like it is wearing glasses. Forgive the hirola if it appears more than a little concerned: only an estimated 600 of these antelopes exist today as a result of disease, predators, habitat loss, severe droughts and poaching. Sadly, the hirola has been legally protected in places like Kenya and Somalia since the 1970s; however, enforcement has been more than ineffective during this time period.
Ploughshare Tortoise: Carrying a Large Burden
(Images via: Lists O Plenty, The Conservation Report, Wildlife Extra)
With only 200 mature and 400 individual members remaining in northwestern Madagascar, the ploughshare tortoise is expected to go extinct within the next 30 years if current threats such as hunting, poaching and smuggling for the international pet trade continue to go undeterred.
Island Gray Fox: Small in Size and Population
(Images via: Wildlife North America, Britannica, Wildlife Mysteries)
Weighing 3 to 4 pounds, the island gray fox is not only the smallest fox in the United States but a rapidly declining species. Less than 1,000 island gray foxes are left today on 6 of the California Channel Islands as a result of canine diseases, golden eagle threats, and previous programs that killed these foxes to protect another endangered species, the endemic loggerhead shrikes. Thankfully, these killing efforts were stopped in 2003.
Sumatran Orangutans: Hardly Worth Laughing About
(Images via: Bio Web, Orangutan Foundation, Durrell)
Mostly living in Indonesia, the Sumatran orangutan population is down to roughly 6,600 individuals, according to a 2008 survey. Logging and deforestation have had adverse effects on these orangutans, which have been orphaned, captured for trade or killed for various reasons.
Vaquita: A Porpoise That Needs A Purpose
(Images via: CSI Whales Alive, Save the Vaquita, Save Bio Gems, INE)
A porpoise that looks a bit like a plump dolphin, the vaquita is respectively recognized by dark rings around its eyes and patches on its beak. Nowadays the vaquita is hardly recognized due to its small numbers: only 150 individuals are left as the result of fishing gillnets, reduced water flows and water pollution.
White-Headed Langur: Finding It Hard to Reproduce
(Images via: New York Times, Flickr, New York Times)
As few as 59 white-headed langurs are left on the once isolated but more recently populated Cat Ba Island near Vietnam, with many of these species split into all female groups. In addition to deforestation, a major threat to these langurs has been hunting, specifically for a traditional Chinese medicine preparation called monkey balm.
Romer’s Tree Frog: Easy to Get Lost
(Images via: Yearbook, Compunicate, Yearbook, Electronic Gallery of HKU)
Less than 0.8 inches long, the Romer’s tree frog of Hong Kong was once thought to be extinct following airport construction that wiped out its habitat. In good news, this tree frog is still alive, with active breeding programs contributing to a couple thousand Romer’s being released in the wild in the 1990s.
Przewalski’s Horse: Back Kicking in the Wild
(Images via: ZSL, Shoarns, National Zoo)
Did you know that the Przewalski’s horse, with its stocky body and short neck, is the only true living species of wild horse? Or that this horse once became extinct in the wild and could only be found in zoos? In recent years the Przewalski’s horse has been reintroduced into native habitats in Mongolia following dedicated conservation efforts. Today there are more than 300 Przewalski’s horses in the wild, not only serving as an important reminder to protect endangered animals but offering proof that there is hope for other threatened species if saved in time. For more information on these critically endangered animals, check out the WCS report: The Rarest of the Rare.