The Javan rhino, vaquita, mountain gorillas, and Asian elephants are among the world’s most vulnerable species. Time is running out for few animals on Earth. The biggest threat to the survival of native animal is human beings, habitat depletion, poaching, and climate change.
According to scientists, gorillas live in complex social cultures, have distinct characteristics, build, utilize tools, and show emotions of sorrow and compassion. We should not be surprised, though, since gorillas are one of our closest living relatives, sharing at least 95% of our DNA.
Gorillas occur in family communities of between five and ten members. At the same time, they may vary from two to more than fifty. Each family group is led by a dominant adult male—or silverback—who has maintained his position for years. Gorilla’s social life is founded on the friendship between the silverback and his females. Females attain sexual maturity at around seven or eight years of age. Still, they do not start breeding for another couple of years. Males mature at a slightly older rate than females.
If a female begins reproduction, she’ll probably only have one kid every four to six years and 3 to 4 in her lifetime. Gorillas have a low fertility rate. A 2010 UN poll predicted that they would be extinct in significant sections of the Congo Basin.
On the other hand Mountain Gorilla, a subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla that is not deemed extinct. As of June 2020, about 150 to 180 adults of Cross River Gorillas live in the wild. Poaching, habitat destruction, illness, and human violence are all contributing factors to their extinction, which is the case with many endangered animals. Gorillas also take a long period to recover and have the low reproductive ability, with females giving birth every four to six years. In her lifetime, a female will reproduce three to four times.
A mountain Gorilla from Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Rhinoceros is a fusion of two Greek names, Rhino and Ceros, which means “nose horn” in English. Unfortunately, hunting is their worst danger because of their distinctive horns. They are used as a status mark and a sign of prosperity in traditional Chinese medicine. A kilogram of Javan rhino horn will get up to $30,000 on the black market.
Black Rhino, Kenya
The Javan rhino is the most threatened, only found in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
Vietnam found the mainland Javan rhino subspecies to have become extinct in 2011. Due to successful conservation efforts, the larger single-horned (or Indian) rhinos rose from around 200 at the turn of the twentieth century to approximately 3,700 today. One of Asia’s biggest success stories is the larger one-horned rhino, whose status has changed from endangered to threatened due to large population increases. Poaching for its horn and habitat loss and degradation continues to pose a danger to the species.
#3 Sea turtle
In the last 200 years, human efforts have tilted the scales in favor of the survival of the ancient sailors. Sea turtles are killed for their eggs, skin, meat, and shells and are over-exploited. They also face environmental losses and by-catch (involuntary catch) in fishing gear. Climate change influences turtle nesting sites because of increases in sand levels that impact hatching genders. Sea turtles are now classified as extinct in nearly half of their habitats, with three remaining seven species at extreme risk.
Sea turtles are the next species on our inventory of endangered species. The Hawksbill and Kemps Ridley tortoises are both critically vulnerable, according to the IUCN Threatened Species red list. Leatherback sea turtles are classified as Vulnerable because their numbers are dwindling. Specific subpopulations are on the brink of extinction.
Poachers are stealing sea turtle eggs, shells, meat, and skin, rendering poaching one of the most important animals’ threats. They are also endangered by habitat loss, by-catch, erosion, and climate change. The sex of the hatchlings is dictated by the sand’s temperature, with the eggs appearing as females in colder environments. Therefore, even small temperature fluctuations can change the sex ratio of the population. Furthermore, as sea levels rise, breeding beaches may be flooded.
Two parallel horns with pointed ends, which can be longer than 20 inches and are present on both males and females, differentiate Saola (pronounced sow-la). They are relatives of cattle with antelope-like horns, and their name means “spindle horns” in Vietnamese. Saola has eye-catching white spots on their faces and large maxillary glands on their muzzles, which they may use to identify territory or attract mates. They can only be found in Vietnam and the Annamite Mountains of Laos.
Saola – One of the world’s rarest mammals
Saola is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. It was found in Vietnam in 1992 and was recognized as one of the twentieth century’s most interesting zoological findings.
The Saola is a mystical and unusual character known as Asia’s unicorn! Even though accurate population figures are impossible to come by, they are acutely vulnerable and one of the world’s rarest large land species.
#5 North Atlantic right whale
Since 1970, the Endangered Species Act has listed the right whales of the North Atlantic as endangered. According to experts, there are less than 400 North Atlantic right whales left, with less than 100 breeding females. The number of new calves born in recent years has been below average. Right whales have been witnessing an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) since 2017, with 46 dead (32) or seriously injured (14). It is equivalent to more than 10% of the population. It significantly impacts a critically threatened species where births are more than dead.
The right whale of the North Atlantic was named after the whalers. They’re gentle giants who stay to the coast and spend a lot of time feeding on zooplankton’s top, making them an easy target and the “right whale to hunt”. They were killed for their meat and oil-rich blubber, and they are still considered one of the most endangered giant whales. There are just about 400 remaining, and only about 100 of them are capable of reproducing. Although they are now healthy and poaching is prohibited, the species’ recovery is poor. Females do not have a breed for the first ten years of their life and will have one every six or ten years.
North Atlantic Right Whales threatened with extinction
They are still at risk, with two of the most severe dangers being the impact of boats and fishing gear’s entanglement. Ship traffic noise also makes it difficult for them to communicate. They use noise to find companions, find food, escape predators, navigate, and communicate with one another. It is a critical sense, without a doubt. Finally, climate change and shifting sea levels could affect food supplies, impacting survival and reproductive rates.
#6 Tooth-billed pigeon
This species, unfortunately, is on the brink of extinction. They are members of the Columbidae tribe, which includes 310 pigeon and dove species. Still, the tooth-billed pigeon is the only surviving member of its genus Didunculus. In Samoa’s primary forests, vast swaths of land have been razed to make room for cultivation. Cyclones and unwanted tree species have also degraded their habitats. The Tooth-billed Pigeon is no longer hunted, but regular hunts have resulted in thousands of individuals’ deaths in the past.
The population of tooth-billed pigeons is rapidly dwindling, trailing in the footsteps of their extinct relative, the dodo. They still live on Samoa’s island, but there are just around 70 to 380 of them left in the wild, with no captive stocks to aid in conservation efforts. Tooth-billed pigeons are a species for which nothing is understood. They are enigmatic, and they’ve only seen once in a while.
Hunting has been a significant factor in their downfall in the past, killing thousands of people. Tooth-billed pigeons are also killed mistakenly during hunts for other species, which is now illegal. Habitat degradation is now one of their most pressing issues.
Exotic plants have taken over large swaths of their territory, which has been cleared for agriculture, cyclone-devastated, or taken over by exotic trees. Invasive animals, such as wild cats, pose a threat to them as well.
Gharials can reach a length of 12 to 15 feet and up to 2,000 pounds in weight. Gharials maintain the body heat by heating up in the sunlight and cooling off in the shade or swimming in the water.
Gharial males have a significant expansion on their snout called the ghara, which means “mud pot” in Hindi. During mating displays, males use their gharas to vocalize and blow bubbles. While the females lay eggs in sandbanks along the river’s slow-flowing sections, the animals congregate to mate and build dens during the dry season. After the eggs have been incubated for 70 days, the hatchlings will remain with their mothers for weeks or even months.
Unlike other crocodilians, Gharials do not stalk or lunge for prey; instead, they are responsive cells in their snouts since water vibrations. The animals trap the fish in their mouths, packed with over a hundred teeth, by whipping their heads from side to side. While adults eat fish, their offspring continue to eat insects, crustaceans, and frogs.
Concerns regarding the plight of the Gharial have prompted several restoration campaigns in recent decades. The Indian government offered complete species protection to restrict poaching in the 1970s.
The Gharial is a big crocodile with a very unique, narrow snout that lives only in a few Indian rivers
The Gharial is a fish-eating crocodile native to India. Their snouts are long and thin, with a giant bump on the end that resembles a Ghara pot, which is how they received their name. They spend a lot of time in freshwater, which allows them to lay eggs and relax in the light.
Since the 1930s, Gharial levels have been declining, and this massive crocodile is now on the verge of extinction. Just 100 to 300 of these animals remain in the wild. Their degeneration is caused by several factors, many of which are caused by humans. Poachers that threaten conventional drugs, habitat destruction, flooding, and entanglement in fishing nets are serious challenges.
Kakapo is the last flightless parrot in the world. Kakapos are not authorized to ride. Instead of flapping, they use their narrow wings for balance and defence. Since they do not have to be thick and stiff enough to withstand flight, their feathers are much lighter than those of other birds.
Kakapos are nocturnal land-dwelling parrots native to New Zealand, and yet another animal is driven to extinction by people. Kakapos are highly endangered, with just around 140 individuals remaining.
Kakapo, an adorable, dog-like bird that New Zealanders are desperate to save from extinction
They used to be found all over New Zealand and Polynesia, but now they live on two tiny islands off New Zealand’s southern shore. Predation by introduced predators, such as cats and stoats, who are prey to scent, is one of the most critical threats to Kakapos. When threatened, the natural reaction of kakapo is to freeze and fit in with the surroundings. It fits best in species that are preyed on by hearing rather than by smell. When the females find food, they abandon the nest, making the eggs vulnerable to predators.
Intensive mitigation measures have resulted in an increase in population, which is a good thing. However, the remaining kakapo has little genetic diversity, which may endanger their potential survival, especially if they develop a disease.
#9 Amur Leopard
The Amur Leopard is a solitary creature. It has nimble feet and is tough, and it can hold and cover unfinished kills to keep other predators away. After mating, several males have been confirmed to remain with females and assist in rearing the young. Several males will compete for the same female. They live for 10-15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. The Amur Leopard is also known as the Far East Leopard, Manchurian Leopard, and Korean Leopard.
An one month old Amur Leopard
Unfortunately, Amur leopards are one of the world’s most vulnerable large cats. Between 2014 and 2015, there were only around 92 Amur leopards remaining in their natural habitat, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The number is now thought to be less than 70.
As well as all the animals on our threatened list, humans pose the greatest threat to them. Poachers take pride in their lovely coats and bones, which they trade for traditional Asian medicine. Land depletion, mostly caused by natural and human-made fires, continues to damage them. Climate change has a significant impact on the Amur leopard’s environment, resulting in a reduction in prey abundance.
Vaquita porpoise is the most endangered marine species in the world. Its numbers are shrinking, with only 19 people left behind. Vaquitas are killed by being caught in illegal gillnets intended to catch totoaba. This lucrative illegal fishery encourages illicit trade in the swim bladder to China. Gillnets have also been banned from fishing for legal shrimp and finfish, mostly targeted at US markets.
Vaquita is also the most endangered and smallest marine species in the country.
Vaquita – the world’s most endangered marine mammal
Totoaba’s illegal fishing, a vast fish, valued for its swim bladder, is their biggest threat. Vaquitas are stuck in totoaba gillnets and drown because they fail to rise to the surface to breathe. In July 2016, restoration measures culminated in a moratorium on gillnets in the vaquita habitat. Still, illegal fishing persists, and the problem remains. The goal now is to maintain the ban on gillnets and to prosecute those who breach it. Totoaba is a vulnerable plant, and conservationists are seeking to reduce the appetite for it.