The news of animals being under threat of extinction is nothing new. There have been commercials, organizations, and scientists telling us about the risk man poses to nature and the many animals who are under threat. But now, rumblings of the world’s sixth mass extinction pose the question, where is the limit? How long do we have to save these species?
“There are literally thousands of species which could go extinct by 2030,” Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Endangered Species Program of Center for Biological Diversity, told Newsweek. Aside from pollution, deforestation, and other man-made problems, a general lack of knowledge of all species and how many are out there is cited as one of the biggest obstacles to saving our wildlife. “Earth is experiencing an extinction crisis,” Curry went on to explain to Newsweek. “It is important to save animals from extinction because our fate is tied directly to theirs.”
5 Critically Endangered Species We Need to Help Right Now
While it’s clear that our planet is seeing a flashpoint as a whole, when it comes to the survival of many species, some are closer to others to no longer being able to turn back the clock. All the animals below are at the point of being critically endangered and could be gone in an instant without more immediate help.
Orangutans (Bornean and Sumatran)
Found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, Orangutans are the largest arboreal mammal in the world, meaning they live almost exclusively in trees. Hunting and habitat loss are the main threats to these animals, with heavier industrial practices and looser regulations on the developing islands they inhabit being an obstacle to conservation. Beyond that, females only reproduce every six to eight years.
Part of that could be explained in the complexity of the Orangutan, as Orangutans have almost 95% of the same genes we do. Estimates vary as to just how many of the species remain, with the Bornean estimates sitting between 40,000 and 100,000, but with Sumatrans being at a much more critical mass, thought to be between 7,000 and 14,000. This is down from nearly 230,000 total orangutans about a century ago.
With estimates as low as sixty remaining in the wild, the Amur Leopard is a highly endangered big cat. It used to have populations in both China and the Koreas, but now Amur Leopards are only found in the Amur River basin of Eastern Russia. Their amount of prey and habitat have been significantly reduced by humans and climate change, but their existence has also been threatened by poachers looking for their beautiful coats and ingredients for traditional Asian medicines.
The closest to extinction of the Rhinos, Javan Rhinos are an artifact of a species. It’s believed that the Javan Rhino has looked the same for over one-million years. They used to live all across Asia and northern India, but today they are only found in one National park in Indonesia. Interestingly, the Javan Rhino communicates using smell, much of it from its dung and urine, to communicate rather than sound. Long pregnancies, as much as 16 to 19 months, and poaching are the main obstacles to reintroducing the species elsewhere.
Having only been discovered in 1993 and having only been photographed in the wild three times, the Saola is a unique animal that’s been dubbed “the Asian unicorn.” While closer to an antelope in appearance, the Saola is actually more closely related to cattle. Aside from those characterizations, a Saola may be recognized by two parallel horns that reach up to 20 inches as well as distinctive white markings above their eyes. Because we’ve seen so few in the wild, and we know that the area they live in has been dwindling, they are considered critically endangered. Before its discovery, the Saola represented one of the many animals who could be going extinct without our knowledge.
The smallest of cetaceans — an animal order which includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises — the vaquita is the most endangered animal on this list. Discovered in 1958, there are about 10 of these creatures left. The biggest threat to these porpoises are gillnets, which commercial fishermen and those looking for totoaba use illegally in the Gulf of California, where Vaquitas exclusively reside.
How To Help Endangered Species
Aside from donating your time or money to causes that relate to a specific species, there are a number of things you can do to help protect endangered species. In addition to being environmentally friendly in your day-to-day life, being an advocate for conservation through voting, supporting certain organizations, and voicing your support on a regular basis are all ways you can support species both near and far from you.