When an animal makes it onto the endangered species list, it’s a big deal. It doesn’t just mean their numbers are starting to dwindle — it means that species is in serious trouble.
In fact, to be named as endangered, a species must have declined in numbers by 50-70 percent over the last decade, or have a current population of under 250. The conditions are even worse for animals listed as critically endangered, which means they have declined by 80-90 percent, or less than 50 are currently surviving.
Many of the animals on that list won’t surprise you — we’ve been hearing about the plight of animals like the giant panda for years — but some of the animals currently endangered may shock you.
Pictures and magazines will have you believe giraffes are as common to the African landscape as trees, and for some species of giraffes, that’s true. The tallest species, though, the Rothschild giraffe, is endangered from predators and poaching. Most of the remaining animals live in protected areas and in captivity.
2. Bluefin tuna
As often as you see tuna on menus, you would assume they are plentiful. While many species of tuna are thriving, the largest (and most endangered) of them all is the bluefin tuna. Its numbers are declining rapidly due to over-fishing, but that hasn’t stopped many fishermen from going after it, because it brings such a high price. Don’t feel guilty if you’re a tuna lover, though — the tuna you find in salads and casseroles is a much more abundant type of tuna, and even the tuna served at high-end restaurants is probably not bluefin.
It’s hard to imagine an animal as large and predatory as the tiger could be nearing extinction, but due to habitat loss and poaching, it is. Thankfully, its numbers are finally starting to rise after more than a century of decline, but tigers still have a ways to go before they’re no longer considered endangered.
Despite the fact that they are our closest animal relatives, humans aren’t doing chimpanzees any favors. They live in Central Africa, where they are hunted for their meat and taken from their mothers to live as pets to humans. Diseases like Ebola are also taking their toll on the chimpanzee population.
5. African wild dog
These wild hunting dogs that roam the sub-Saharan area in Africa are dwindling in numbers due to loss of habitat and hunting from farmers that fear for the safety of their livestock. They’re also very susceptible to diseases spread from domestic animals.
6. Asian elephant
The Asian elephant is much smaller than its African counterpart, but still displays the tusks that put it at risk for poaching. That’s not its only danger, though — they are also frequently captured for use as tourist attractions, and rapidly losing their home in the rainforest.
You may be surprised to see this animal on the endangered list, mostly because it’s not unusual to find these birds living as pets. However, that’s precisely the reason three species of cockatoos are now considered endangered. Not only are they frequently captured for trade, but they’re also victims of poaching.
If you live in a country setting, you might find it hard to believe bats are endangered, especially on a hot summer night when they’re swooping overhead, but their numbers are dangerously low. In fact, there are 26 species of bats listed as critically endangered, 51 as endangered and a whopping 954 species considered threatened. Most of this is due to loss of habitat, as roosting forests are rapidly being cut down.
The striped coat of the zebra makes it one of the most easily identifiable animals, but if things keep going the way they are, that gorgeous striped coat will be nothing more than a memory. The African animal has seen a decline of more than 80 percent of its numbers in the last three decades, mainly because of hunting for meat, loss of habitat and drought.