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Jan 28 2016

Animals That Could go Extinct in 2016

Planet Earth is home to a vast array of fascinating creatures. Unfortunately, as human behavior and natural phenomenons continue to harm the populations of certain species, the likelihood of their extinction increases. The following animals could go extinct by the end of 2016

8. Black Rhino

rhino

Back Rhinos are actually grey. They live in eastern and central Africa, and are listed as critically endangered. In fact, subspecies the western black rhino, the southern black rhino and and the northeastern black rhino are already extinct.

Black Rhinos have no natural predator. Like pretty much any other creature unlucky enough to cross a crocodile, they have been known to be killed by by these beasts in some cases. However, due to their size, aggressive behavior, thick skin and deadly horns, few animals in the wild have the gumption to mess with a Black Rhino.  

However, circumstances beyond their control are threatening to wipe out the species entirely. Illegal poaching has been perhaps, the biggest threat. Killing rhinos has been a common practice since at least 1200 B.C. Their horns were used for various items, and their skin was often to used to make elaborate belts and armor for soldiers. However, in the 1970’s, demand for their horns, particularly in the middle east was out of control. Between 1970 and 1992, the black rhino population declined by 96%….96%!! By 2004, there were fewer than 2,500 left in the whole world. Compare that to the early 20th century, when there estimated to be hundreds of thousands roaming around.

War in countries such as Chad, Somalia, and Cameroon, have also done extensive damage to their population.  

Since the 1970’s, efforts to conserve the population have been in effect. The trade of rhino horns is illegal in most countries and by 2008, the overall population had recovered to 4,240. It is estimated that now, the southern white rhino population is up to 14,500. Fewer than 50 existed at the turn of the century.

Embryo research done on rhinos who dies in captivity may also help save the population. They can be used to test sperm and can really assist in helping rhinos reproduce.  

7. Mountain Gorilla

mountain gorilla 2

Mountain Gorillas live in Central Africa and are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. A 2015 estimation suggested that there are fewer than 900 of these gorillas left in the world. They are the second largest subspecies of gorillas, with males growing anywhere from 5 feet tall, to over 6 feet tall. On average, adult males weigh over 400 pounds, while their female counterparts weigh about half that much.

Mountain gorillas face the threat of extinction due to poaching, wars, and habitat loss. Poachers often capture young gorillas to sell illegally, either to zoos or to people looking for exotic pets. In some instances, gorillas will be killed by traps meant for other animals.

Human settlements also pose a danger. As humans expand their territory, gorillas lose food, and resources needed to survive. This is exacerbated by war as displaced people will use trees to make new homes and clear out land to farm on. Some mountain gorillas have been known to accidentally be killed by landmines.

Despite these problems, there have been extensive efforts to save the gorilla population. Armed guards patrol protected forests where gorillas live and often remove snares meant to injure and assist in the poaching of these primates. The protected forests also ensure that space and resources needed by mountain gorillas to survive are protected.

While the population is thought to be around 880, conservationists have actually been able to help increase the population by 26 percent over the past decade. As a reference point, In 1981, fewer than 300 mountain gorillas were alive.

6. Amur Leopard

leopard amur

The Amur Leopard is native to parts of Russia and China. It is estimated that only 70 of these leopard exist in the word today. They have been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN since 1996. during the 1970’s, these big cats lost somewhere around 80 percent of their habitual range.

Amur Leopards are one of the more distinctive subspecies of leopards. They are smaller than most leopards, and have the most consistently divergent fur patterns.With quick speed and impressive leaping ability, they are capable hunters, favoring mid sized mammals such as deer, moose and wild pigs.

Like many endangered species, poaching presents a serious problem for their population. In addition to poachers hunting down and killing the leopards, many of their prey are also being poached, making food sources rather scarce.

Deforestation is also limiting their natural habitat. Remember how we just said that they lost about 80 percent of their range during the 70’s? That is largely due to deforestation caused by expanding human settlements.  The exploitation of resources and land development has resulted in much of the vegetation, food and space required by Amur Leopards disappearing.

In addition to threats imposed by humans, inbreeding among Amur Leopards is also threatening eliminate them completely. Because they lost their genetic diversity over time, they have had reproductive abnormalities that have presented health and survival challenges. This is a process known as genetic degeneration, a characteristic common among diminished populations of animals.  

Conservation efforts have had modest success in sustaining the population. As recently as 2007, there were only between 19-26 left. By increasing anti-poaching efforts, habitat conservation, education and more adept land use plans, the population has grown  to 70 and will hopefully continue to grow even more.

5. Hawksbill Turtle

turtle

Although they have a pretty wide distribution, Hawksbill Turtles face the threat of extinction in the near future. These turtles are found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, primarily in warmer regions. They tend to habitat coral reefs in tropical regions, feeding mainly on sponges and sometimes algae and fish.

They are prey to large fish, such as sharks, and of course, humans pose grave danger to their population. Even though it is illegal to hunt them in most parts of the world, they are often hunted and sold for food. They have been a delicacy in China, dating as early as the 5th century B.C. Additionally, their shells are used for decoration and for personal accessories, such as eyeglass frames. Additionally, Hawksbill turtles are known for their slow mating habits and slow maturity, making it difficult for their population to recover. On top of all of that, it is not uncommon for a mongoose to raid their nests soon after they eggs are laid.

Due to their rapidly declining population, it is illegal to hunt, kill, or sell products containing Hawksbill turtles. Despite these efforts, it is expected that their population will continue to decline.

4. Vaquita

the cutest vaquita

Living only in the Gulf of California, the Vaquita is a near extinct porpoise. It is estimated that fewer than 100 of them are left. They tend to live near the shorelines, feasting on any type of small fish or squid they come across.

Gillnet fishing kills close to 40 Vaquitas a year. Additionally, pollution has damaging their habitat. The poor level of water nutrients and low minerals levels are killing fish in the area, so food sources for the Vaquitas are pretty scarce. The damming of rivers in the region stop the flow of fresh water into their habitat, which may have long term effects on the population, should they even survive the next few decades.

In order to curb the population decline, restrictions on gill fishing have been put into place. Furthermore, the Mexican government has created nature reserves in the gulf of California where the Vaquita live. There are even economic compensation plans to encourage fishermen to not fish in protected areas, as fishing remains the number one threat.

3. South China Tiger

tiger

As its name would suggest, the South china tiger lives southern China. since 1996, it has been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. It is quite possible that they are extinct in the wild, existing solely in captivity. There has been no official sighting of a Chinese Tiger in the wild since the 1970’s, and that Tiger was taken in protective captivity.

Up until the 1950’s, the South China Tiger was widespread across southern China, and more than 4,000 of these big cats roamed free. Hunting and deforestation quickly lead to a decline in the population. By the late 1980’s, the population had dipped to around 30-40 tigers. Even though there had not been an official sighting of a South China Tiger since the early 70’s, there was evidence of these few tigers left in the wild.

There are roughly 70 South China Tigers in captivity today, and biologists hope to eventually reintroduce these tigers into the wild. Some conservationists have toyed with the idea of placing them in South Africa where they will have more space, food to hunt and experts in the area to help stabilize the population. However, there are concerns as to how well they would do in the wild.

2. Blue Throated Macaw

group of colorful macaw on the tree

These critically endangered parrots live in Bolivia, where they are regarded as a cultural heritage. Due to the illegal, yet lucrative pet trade, only about 400 of these exotic birds remain alive today.

Blue Throated Macaws are among the rarest in the world. They only live in parts of the Benni Department in Bolivia. In the 1980’s, some estimations tallied as many 1000 of the birds in the wild. By the late 1990’s, less than 200 were still alive.

Recent efforts to increase the population have seen modest gains. A more recent survey, indicates that at least 350 Blue Throated Macaws are now in the wild. The Bolivian government has implemented legislation that protects these parrots, and has made the trapping and selling of them illegal. Additionally, a huge 11,500 acre land reserve for the birds was built in an effort to save the population from extinction.

1. Northern Sportive Lemur

nothern sportive lemur

They live in Madagascar, and thanks to ecological deterioration, and threats posd by humans, the Northern Sportive Lemur is the most endangered primates on the planet.

These Lemurs live on a restricted range in Madagascar. They inhabit the bank of the Loky River, and the forests near the Irodo river. As nocturnal creatures, they forage for food at night and sleep during the day. Males tend to be be very territorial and will defend their territory with great valor.  

Northern Sportive Lemurs are small compared to most primates. They typical only grow to a tad under 2 feet in length, and weigh less than two pounds. This makes them easy prey to boa constrictors and large birds. The production of charcoal, is perhaps an even greater threat, as it continues to destroy their habitat. Poachers will often hunt and kill these primates and sell the meat illegally. Sadly only a few hundred remain alive today.