Top 10 ANIMALS That HUMANS Will HUNT INTO EXTINCTION
As human beings continue to encroach on Mother Nature, more and more of her beautiful creatures find their way on the ever-growing extinction list. This installment will cart us all over the world to visit ten species that are on the dangerous verge of extinction.
Known for its beautiful spotted fur, the Amur Leopard, primarily found in Russia, has faced years of poaching which has helped knock the population down to around 60 leopards. Amur leopards share many similarities to other leopard species, including their solidarity and impressive speeds. Poaching may have been controlled, but there is still an issue of the leopard’s habitat being dramatically changed. Deforestation and logging has led to a decrease in available prey, which will eventually either drive the Amur leopard to another part of the world or ultimately aid in its total extinction. Along with assisting in stopping poaching, wildlife conservationists are also looking to repopulate the Amur leopard’s prey to give it a chance at survival.
Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia could very well be the final resting ground of the last of the Javan Rhino. With only 57 remaining in the park, this species of rhino is in a volatile situation, and though video evidence of the park shows that the Javan Rhino is breeding, it wouldn’t take much to wipe them out completely. The Javan Rhino was once a prized catch for trophy hunters, but more natural elements may be the final cause of the rhino’s disappearance. With one major burst, the nearby Anak Krakatau volcano could wipe out the entire population, if disease doesn’t get to them first. Compared to the commonly known African Rhinoceros, the Javan sports a stubbier horn that is only 10 inches or 25 centimeters in length.
The Vaquita, the smallest known cetacean, has only been a part of our knowledge-base since 1958, but that hasn’t stopped human interference from nearly eradicating the species in such a short time. In a matter of three years, more than half of the Vaquita population has been lost due to entanglement in gillnets meant for totoaba, another critically endangered species. Current estimates of the Vaquita population puts it below 100. Much like the Right Whale, the Vaquita also faces habitat pollution. With such a low number of the species left, it is also believed that inbreeding will be a large factor in the porpoise’s imminent demise.
Cross River Gorilla
Up until about 10 years ago, studying the remaining population Cross River Gorilla has proved difficulty due to the terrain they inhabit. It is estimated, via nest counts, that there are only a maximum of 300 of these Cameroon and Nigerian gorillas remaining. This western gorilla subspecies has faced hardships due to hunting, despite wildlife laws in place. Though conservation has limited hunting, the current remaining population is at a risk of inbreeding due to infrequent interaction of outside groups. Additional factors that will likely lead to the extinction of the Cross River Gorilla is continued destruction of the species’ natural habitat, which further segregates groups and halts population growth.
North Atlanta Right Whale
As much as whales are protected both legally and by bandits of anti-whaling groups, their numbers still diminish greatly. Among the most endangered of whale species is the North Atlantic Right Whale. While Japan is often known for its whaling efforts, the North Atlantic Right Whale is actually indigenous to the Atlantic coast of North America and is threatened most by fishing gear and collisions with boats. Currently there are roughly 350 known whales to exist, and despite ffforts to conserve the North Atlanta Right Whale population, our efforts have shown no improvement in numbers.
Though protected by Indonesian law, people from Sumatra and other parts of Asia still partake in poaching. It’s not just poachers that are dwindling numbers, though; it’s human existence in general. Illegal timber harvesting and destruction of forests has left the Sumatran Tiger with little habitat left. With little land to roam, the tigers are forced into settlements, which leads to livestock slaughter and the death’s of settlers. Natural survival instincts for both human and tiger pits them in a bloody tug of war as one struggles to protect its kin and the other struggles to find suitable hunting grounds and a safe dwelling. In 1978, some 1,000 tigers were known to exist. Today, the numbers are estimated to be around 400, and steadily decreasing.
Less than 1,000 of this population of mountain gorilla, a subspecies of the eastern gorilla, has survived the test of time, having faced war, hunting, disease, and destruction of its natural habitat as early as its discovery in 1902. Though once believed to not have survived the 20th century, the Mountain Gorilla has seen a small increase in population in recent years due to conservation efforts. Regardless of these efforts, though, human conflict could easily throw conservation attempts off-balance, as seen in the 1990s during the war in Rwanda. Human contact has also lead to the transmitting of disease, which the gorilla may be more susceptible to. For example, something as basic as the common cold can wind up killing a gorilla without proper veterinary care.
Yangtze Finless Porpoise
With a population hovering around 1,500, the Yangtze Finless Porpoise is on a dangerous and steady decline to extinction. Survival in the Yangtze River proves to be continuously difficult as the finless porpoise helplessly watches its food supply decrease. Though responsible for the rapidly declining population via overfishing, China is taking direct action in attempt to keep the porpoise from facing the same fate as the Baiji dolphin, which was declared extinct 10 years ago. Four finless porpoise were relocated to Poyang Lake, a secure habitat that connects to the Yangtze seasonally. Should the efforts fail and the population continues to diminish, it’s likely that the finless porpoise will be extinct within a decade.
Elephants are a majestic breed of animal, intelligent to a degree that makes it devastating how often they are hunted for something as simple as ivory. For the Sumatran Elephant, which is thought to have been dwindled into a population of around 2,400, poaching is only one aspect that is leading to the species’ total annihilation. Additional to poachers, who still hunt Sumatran Elephants despite smaller tusks, the paper industry and oil palm plantations has lead to a rapid rate of deforestation, eradicating the Sumatran Elephant’s habitat. Due to the continued encroachment of settlements and deforestation, the elephants are often seen trampling settlements and raiding crops, leading them to be viewed as a threat and subsequently killed. In the past 20 years, their numbers have been cut in half, with current population estimates ranging between 2,400 and 2,800 in the wild.
One may think that the softer shell of the Leatherback Turtle may have something to do with its place on the Critically Endangered list, but, of course, a much larger factor is human involvement. Leatherback eggs are a delicacy in many parts of the world and are typically harvested in Latin America and Asia. With Leatherback offspring unable to be born and with the additional threat of longlining, a method used to fish for swordfish or tuna, is cutting down on the population at a tremendous rate. Current predictions estimate that the leatherback, the largest known sea turtle, could be extinct by 2020.