Humans are mesmerized by animals, especially those we don’t get to see every day. We frequent zoos and watch nature documentaries, but what happens when there’s a species no one can capture?
Ironically enough, the loss of certain animals can be mostly blamed on humanity. Deforestation, climate change, and illegal hunting practices have decreased the numbers of some of the most special creatures out there. You may be familiar with tigers and pandas, but there’s a bunch of other beautiful beasts also on the brink of extinction…
1. The Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle lives in the Yangtze River in China, but they can also be found in Vietnam. There are only three known specimens of this big swimmer currently living — two of them in China’s Suzhou Zoo.
2. The Roloway Monkey of West Africa is threatened by the usual culprits – poachers and deforestation. We don’t know exactly how many are left today, but their population has dropped almost eighty percent in recent years.
3. Pygmy three-toed sloths weren’t discovered until 2001, living on an island off the Panamanian coast. Weighing less than 8 lbs, they are much smaller than other sloths. By 2012, there were only 79 of them left on Earth…
4. The Saola may look like a deer, but it’s actually a bovine. They were first photographed in 1999 in the forests of Vietnam and Laos. Sadly, these beautiful creatures are hunted too often and are rapidly dying out.
5. The Araripe Manakin is not a plastic figure wearing clothes in a storefront, but rather a bird wearing a Trump-like haircut in a Brazilian theme park. The construction of said theme park reduced its population to roughly 1000. Is any roller coaster worth that?
6. Is it a shark? Is it a ray? No, it’s an angel shark! Perhaps this species needs its own guardian angel since the market for their meat created in the eighties has threatened to make them extinct.
7. Despite their name, the elephant shrew is not technically a shrew, nor is it an elephant. They do have long snouts on their tiny bodies and can run up to 18mph (roughly 29km). They are also as adorable as they are fast.
8. The Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad may be a mouthful, but not a forest-full. The little Ecuadorian amphibians suffered from an outbreak of Chytridiomycosis fungus and were thought to be extinct until one was found in 2011. It’s currently hard to say how many still exist.
9. Guess what the Greater Bamboo Lemur eats? That’s right, it’s bamboo. In fact, they eat enough cyanide-containing bamboo shoots in a day to kill most people. They were thought to be extinct until one was found in Madagascar in 1986. There are about 500 alive today.
10. The Northern Bald Ibis is not fully bald, it just has quite a receding feather-line. They are genetically a very old species and used to be distributed across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Now, there are just over 500 of them left.
11. The Sir David’s Long-Beaked Echidna are spiny anteaters named after English naturalist David Attenborough. Only one specimen has ever been found in New Guinea. It is currently unclear if the animal is extinct or merely extraordinarily rare.
12. This little guy’s fiery fur tells you he is no New York City subway rat, but what is this funky little creature? It’s the Colombian Red-Crested Tree Rat. They do get hunted by cats, but the main cause of their endangerment is deforestation and climate change. Only three have ever been collected.
13. The Hirola is a type of antelope that looks like it could model for National Geographic. Sadly, the number of these Kenyan and Somalian beauties is between 300 and 500, although not one of them lives in captivity.
14. The Cuban Greater Funnel-Eared Bat is Cuban, go figure, and has big ears. The entire known population of the 100 adult bats lives in a single cave. They are likely to go extinct due to having such a limited range and to make matters worse, the cave’s roof is collapsing. Fly free while you still can!
15. The Durrell’s Vontsira is related to the mongoose, living in Madagascar’s Lac Alaotra region. Lac Alaotra is threatened in general, from habitat destruction as well as the introduction of invasive species like the black rat and the Indian civet. The vontsira should really consider moving.
16. Both the Javan and the Sumatran Rhinoceros are endangered. There are less than 100 left of each species. The main cause of this great loss is ivory poaching. Let’s hope that comes to an end soon.
17. This is not your run-of-the-mill interracial household: it’s a family of Hainan Gibbons! They used to live all throughout China, but are now limited solely to the island of Hainan. As of the most recent census, there are only 22 of these human-like monkeys left alive.
18. The Ploughshare Tortoise, also called the angonoka tortoise, lives in Madagascar and is one of the rarest land tortoises on the planet. They were too often separated and sold as pets, unable to reproduce, so they’re expected to go extinct before 2035.
19. The Hairy-Nosed Wombat is not at all bothered by its long nose hairs (unlike most humans), but it is bothered by climate change. In 2013, there were only 230 of these Aussies, but thankfully their population is growing again. Cheers, mate!
20. The Common Sawfish is not very common anymore. It can live in both salt and freshwater, but humans are ruining both habitats. They get easily caught in nets, their meat is a delicacy, and their saws are often used for decoration.
21. The Vaquita is a type of porpoise found in the Gulf of California, whose population has dropped from 600 in 1997 to 12, as of March 2018. The primary threat is becoming entangled in gillnets deployed to illegally catch totoaba, a species of fish that is also critically endangered.
22. This tiny friend goes by many names: the Kaiser’s Spotted Newt, Luristan Newt, or Emperor Spotted Newt. It only lives in 4 streams in Iran where habitat loss and black market trade are making it hard for them to survive, but captive breeding programs in zoos are helping stabilize its numbers.
23. The Northern Muriqui is a woolly spider monkey that lives in Brazil, known for its highly unusual egalitarian social behavior. They can grow up to 4.3 feet tall (1.3m), making them bigger than some humans, but only 1 species is expected to survive the next century. Stay strong and stick together!
24. Found in Oregon and California, Franklin’s Bumblebees are critically important to the ecosystem as facilitators of pollination, but they haven’t been spotted since 2006.
This list is tragic, but it’s important we keep track of these numbers. Luckily, there are people and organizations wanting to help save these beautiful creatures. Let’s hope they can make a difference because once a species of our precious Earth is extinct, it’s never coming back.
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