The world is abundant in a bounty of wildlife that makes it all the more majestic a natural haven to seek beauty in. These wildlife that are however dependent on the natural world and its many coexisting elements for survival continuously face such threats that can even wipe entire species. From habitat loss to poaching, from breeding complexities to low adaptability, a whole set of concerns plague some of the most magnificent of wildlife species. These are concerns so serious that not attending them in their root cause can create graver situations whereby the very existence of such species will be at stake. The following are some wildlife species facing extinction that needs to be saved before we lose them forever to time-
While it is the one horned rhinoceros that we know of most as being endangered courtesy the presence of the world famous premises of the Kaziranga National Park, it in fact are the Javan rhinos that are the most threatened out of the five species of the mammal. Interestingly, the Javan rhinos were also a one time native to north east India and south east Asia, particularly during the late 19th century and the early 20th century and is also closely related to the one horned rhino. However with extensive hunting of the species for its horn and also considerable habitat degradation, Java rhinos are facing the threat of imminent extinction. Now housed only in the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia, this dusky grey species however faces constant risk even there as the area is susceptible to tsunamis, and a major explosion of the nearby Anak Krakatau volcano could easily wipe out most life in the protected area.
A critically endangered marine species, hawksbill turtles are found throughout the tropical oceans of the world, mainly in its coral reefs. Vital to maintaining the health and also the aesthetic potential of its habitat, hawksbill turtles however face the threat of extinction due to a number of factors. Prominent is the tendency for them to be illegally traded in markets as tortoiseshell that which draws upon the distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a serrated-look on the edges. With a decline in population by 80% over the course of the last century, the many hawksbill turtles today stands at a risk of early extinction. Apart from their illegal trade, it also is the loss of habitat triggered by climate change that is proving detrimental to the sustenance of this species.
The fastest of all animals on earth, cheetahs are also racing as fast to the threshold of extinction. But what is appalling is that this is one species facing extinction for more than a couple of times now. With 90% of its population having disappeared from the wild in just the past one century, cheetahs are terrifyingly close to being lost forever. Loss of habitat in the face of rampant human intervention and poaching continues to be the main cause for concern as is the surprisingly low ability of the species to reproduce offsprings. Otherwise dominating the wilderness in entire Africa and some parts of Asia, there are only some 7000 cheetahs to be found today all around the world. Classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the species is also constrained in its population due to low levels of genetic variation which renders them also naturally vulnerable to being wiped out in the near future.
One of the species that had been facing extinction since long and that which has seen a revival in its numbers owing to conservation measures, the tiger however continues to stare right in the face of danger. In fact of the original nine subspecies of tigers, three have become extinct in the last 80 years and while the situation is not rosy anywhere in the world, the same is even alarming in India. With 60% of the world’s tiger population, it also is understandable that India faces numerous issues when it comes to conserving and protecting the species. The World Wildlife Organisation recognises both the Sunda Tiger and the wild Indian tiger as being endangered- the former even critically so. The Sunda Island Tiger today exists less than 400 in number and are found only in Sumatra rather than being spread over the Sunda islands in Indonesia. Loss of habitat and also of prey as well as poaching continue to be the usual culprits for even the wild tigers. The largest feline on the planet, tigers face as large a threat of extinction if measures to protect the big cat fails to gain momentum in response to the critical nature of its present existence.
Apart from the fastest mammal on earth, it also is the world’s largest that continues to be a minuscule presence as far as population is concerned. The Asian elephant is yet another of the wildlife species facing extinction over a range of its subspecies, that which is a derivant of it being a native of the most populous continent on earth. With habitat loss and fragmentation continuously bringing the species to decline, there exists today just about 40000 of them in the world. Poached also for their ivory tusks, meat and body parts apart from being traded off for entertainment purpose to circus and tourist parks as well as for illegal logging activities, the species has been on the decline for quite some time now. What is even more alarming about the rapidly declining numbers of the elephant species is that it holds the potential to trigger extinction trails for a host of other species as well.
Also facing stark into the face of extinction is a species that is the largest among arboreal mammals, the orangutan. Sharing 96.4% of their genes with humans, these red haired, long armed intelligent animals however are one of the slowest breeding mammals that put them at natural risk of extinction. Across all three of its subspecies, namely the Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli, the Tapanuli is the one with the least surviving population. However the Borean and Sumatran orangutan are equally at risk when it comes to sustaining their own. Hunting and illegal wildlife trade further compounds the issue of survival of this species, since orangutans are preferred as pets in Indonesia. Habitat destruction of the tropical rain forest also is a cause of concern that which can mean that these great apes of the wild become a part of history in just about some 50 years or so.
One of the most recent of species that was discovered only as late as 1958, the Vaquita Porpoise is already on the brink of extinction some five decades later. Even in its distinction of being the world’s rarest marine animal, this adorably little species of porpoise does not even sustain itself today in triple digits. Just about 6 to 22 individuals remain in existence today, a plight that which has been largely brought about by the use of gillnets in the vaquita habitat. Found only in the Gulf of California, more recent estimates confirm the number of surviving population of this species to be less than 10! Fished as bycatch along with another endangered species, the Totoaba fish, the Vaquita population is also believed to have been undone by the reduced flow of the Colorado river that which has altered the nutrient composition of the porpoise’s natural habitat.
One of the critically endangered species of India that which is facing extinction is a dolphin that is shy and pretty beyond measure. The Irrawaddy river dolphin that which is found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia is however seeing a constant decline in its population over the course of the last 50 years or so. Currently listed as endangered, this euryhaline species that which inhabits prominently the beautiful natural lake, the Chilika Lake in India’s Odisha, is at risk of extinction throughout its range as a result of incidental catches and injuries, habitat degradation and destruction, and pollution. With somewhere around an estimated 7000 of its population surviving currently all over the world, the Irrawaddy dolphin is in immediate need of conservation measures for it to sustain its existence as a species for years to come.
Perhaps the most recently discovered species facing extinction already is the saola, often called as the Asian unicorn. One of the world’s largest rare mammals, the species was discovered only in 1992 and has been since then documented in the wild on only four occasions to date. As one of the most spectacular zoological discoveries of the 20th century, saola are native to the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos and faces extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation. With a population size that is estimated to range anywhere between a few dozen to a few hundred, the saola faces a bleak future also due to illegal hunting for its fur and meat as well as for use as medicine.