At the start of this century rampant hunting and environmental changes orchestrated by humans had started to take its toll on other species. The 20th century saw the extinction of as many as 30 species and 500 sub-species, many of them perishing in spite of conservation efforts to save them. More astounding is the fact that four more species have gone extinct in the first decade of this century. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is the world’s most authoritarian body in maintaining the conservation status of various species. IUCN uses the term most endangered species in very specific cases.
IUCN has categorized all species according to their number as – extinct, extinct in wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, conservation dependent, near threatened and least concerned. Out of these categories, extinct in wild and critically endangered are the ones that are often referred to as most endangered species in the world. Here’s a list of the ten most endangered species on earth, some of which have even gone extinct in he wild.
Ten Most Endangered Species on Earth
Here’s a list of the ten most endangered species on Earth:
It is a large pheasant like black colored bird with a red beak. It has a unique bare grayish ear patch which is crescent-shaped and not found in other curassow species. Due to continuous habitat loss and rampant hunting, the Alagoas Curassow is believed to be extinct in the wild. The last unverified account of a Alagoas Curassow encountered in the wild was the killing of some curassow species bird in 1988, after which they have not been seen in the wild. There are only about a dozen purebreds left in Brazil, along with many crossbred with the Razor-billed Curassow.
The Loggerhead Turtle
This is highly threatened reptile is found in Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The loggerhead turtle was once extensively hunted not only for its meat and eggs, but also for its fat which was found used in cosmetic industry. Their number is very sparse and the few remaining turtles face the threat of getting caught in the fishing nets. Their breeding grounds have been destroyed in Turkey, where large hotels have been built directly on potential areas and hinder the survival of this reptile.
All the species of tiger are in the endangered animals’ list and this Siberian species is the worst affected. It is estimated that less than 200 Siberian tigers are left in the wild, almost all of them in some natural reserve. Siberian tiger, the largest cat on Earth is also one of the most endangered species in the world. It is another species at loss due to shrinking habitat and poaching. Poachers hunt them for their skins and meat, which is enough to feed a family for almost a year.
It is another mammal listed in IUCN’s critically endangered animal’s list with less than 60 left in wild and captivity. The estimated population in wild is only in single digits and only two populations exist, while the rest are being bred in captivity. The horn of a Javan rhino has traditional Asian medicinal value and large scale hunting has brought them to the verge of extinction. Then there were conversion of forest habitat to farmland which resulted in man-animal skirmishes, and the result has been catastrophic for this rhino.
Northern White Rhinoceros
It is a sub-species of the Africa’s white rhino. The southern white rhino seems to be better placed with about 11,000 rhinos in the wild, but the northern sub-species is in deep trouble. Only 12 northern white rhinos remain on the planet – 8 in captivity and just 4 in the wild. The worst news is that the four wild ones haven’t been spotted since 2006 and it is speculated that they might not be existing anymore. The northern white rhino is the most endangered animal in the world.
Gharial or the Indian Gavial
It is one of the two remnants of the Gavialidae clan which is a group of crocodile-like reptiles found in the Indian sub-continent. Once found in almost all rivers in rain forests from Pakistan to Myanmar, it is now only found in protected reserves of India and Nepal, and is believed to be extinct in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Pakistan. Only a few thousand survive, but the future of the Gharial looks promising as conservation efforts have bore fruit in India and Nepal and there’s has been a steady rise in their numbers.
It is a small dark canine which has been added in the critically endangered list by IUCN. Only 250 Darwin’s fox are left in two conservation parks in Chile. Naturalist Charles Darwin was the first who discovered this animal from the San Pedro Island off the coast of Chile in 1834. Hence it has been named so and the animal proved Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ theory right.
Arakan Forest Turtle
Believed to have been extinct since 1908, the turtle’s reappearance in 1994 came as a stunning discovery. A few specimens were spotted in an east Asian sea food market. The Arakan forest turtle’s existence in wild is still dubious and they are very hard breed in captivity. There are only 14 of these in various zoos and aquariums across the US and their reported sightings in sea foods’ markets in the east continue.
This is another tale of failed conservation effort in Africa. This sub-species of Gorilla has only two surviving populations in reserves of D R Congo, Rwanda and Uganda where a constant battle between government forces and militia has caused a complete neglecting of poaching and hunting which brought the mountain Gorilla’s numbers drastically down. The tribal pure relish the meat of Gorillas as a delicacy and illegal bush meat trade has landed the on the brink of extinction. Only 700 survive in the wild, but the population has registered a 12% increase in the last decade. Read more on mountain gorillas.
The international symbol of conservation of WWF, the giant Panda is another endangered species. The Panda comes in the bear species and found only in three provinces of China. The WWF led conservation efforts of Panda have been really successful and although it remains in the endangered category, their numbers have risen to 1,600 in the wild from the brink of extinction. Read more on endangered panda bears.
Many more species not mentioned in the most endangered species list above are critically endangered and can easily figure in this list. Now it is only up to one species, that resides on top of every food chain, to ensure their survival.