Earth is home to millions of species of wildlife for the last 3 billion years. It is full of attractive, unique, and colorful creatures that run, fly, and roam around freely in the jungle. However, for some species time is running out. Human beings are the greatest threat to wildlife. From poaching for money to clearing hundreds of forests for industrialization, humans have forced many species of wildlife to move out of their native land.
Hundreds of species are on the brink of extinction due to the threats caused by human practices. Critically endangered animals are the species that are at a high risk of extinction and need to be protected. According to IUCN, as of 2020, 6,811 species are critically endangered. At least 37% of these endangered species would become extinct by the year 2050.
Here is a list of 12 most critically endangered animals whose time is running out
1. Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
One of the largest woodpeckers in the world, the Ivory-Billed woodpecker is a native bird of old-growth forests in the southern United States and Cuba. Also known as the ‘Lord God Bird’, it is one of the most attractive and unique birds found in the United States. As the loggers cleared the hardwood forest in the 20th century, the ivory-billed woodpecker disappeared with them.
These critically endangered species haven’t been seen since 1944. However, in 2005, a video surfaced from a vast Arkansas swamp forest that captured a bird with a drastic similarity to the ivory-billed woodpecker. Since there was no hard evidence, the scientists could not conclude whether the woodpecker remains on the planet or not, but it sure gave hope to all the researchers and conservationists. The woodlands that still exist today are conserved areas that researchers still study in the hope to find this rare bird.
2. White Rhino
The second-largest land mammal on the earth, the white rhino is the rarest animal species in the entire world. About 98% of the white rhinos live in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. As of March 2018, only 2 female white rhinos are left which are living in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. With the death of the last male rhino on March 19, 2018, the White Rhino species have become functionally extinct for now. However, scientists are trying to create embryos from the samples in the last attempt to save these massive species from extinction.
One of the world’s rarest marine mammal, Vaquita exists only in the Gulf of California off Mexico. These pint-sized porpoises have seen a drastic decline in their population in the last 10 years. The species were first discovered by scientists in 1958, and shortly after that, they realized that the species are in trouble. Recent research suggests there are less than 10 individuals left in the entire world. One of the major causes of the sudden drop in their population was due to bycatch. Hundreds of Vaquitas died in the 20th century by getting caught up in fishnets. Unless the species decline can be slowed down, Vaquitas would be extinct by 2021.
4. Northern Sportive Lemur
One of the smallest lemur species, the Northern Sportive Lemur is a native species of Madagascar. The species is distinguished by a dark band on its otherwise pale grey-brown back. These nocturnal animals are listed in the IUCNs Most Critically Endangered list, with only 50 individuals now left all over the world. The large-scale commercial hunting of these species is one of the primary reasons for the sudden decline in their population, with 95% of the lemur population on the brink of extinction.
5. Javan Rhino
This single horned rhino is one of the rarest members of the rhinoceros family, that are native to northeast India and Southeast Asia. Once Javan Rhinos were the most widespread Asian rhinoceros, but now they can only be found in the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia. Their population decreased due to excessive poaching and loss of natural habitat. The last Javan rhino in Vietnam was poached in 2010. They are one of the most critically endangered animals on the planet. However, researchers have reported the news of the birth of 2 new Javan Rhinos this year, taking up their population to 74. Conservationists are trying hard to reverse the decline in the population of these rare species.
6. Tooth Billed Pigeon
Also known as the little dodo, the Tooth Billed Pigeon is found only in Samoa. The national bird of Samoo is a large island ground pigeon, is the closest living relative of the extinct bird dodo, which is facing the fate of its name. These attractive birds have a large bright red beak, a blue head, and dark red wings. Tooth Billed Pigeons are getting killed at an alarming rate, with only 70-180 pigeons left all over the world. The major reason for the sudden decline in their population is the loss of their natural habitat. The tooth billed pigeon was last seen in 2013.
7. Sumatran Rhino
The only Asian rhino with two horns, the Sumatran Rhino is a close relative to the extinct woolly rhinos. They are one of the smallest rhinoceros which once inhabited India, Malaysia, Bhutan, Thailand, Bangladesh, China, and Indonesia. Sumatran rhinos are one of the most threatened species, living in fragmented groups in Indonesia. In 1986, over 800 rhinos remained in the wild. There has been a 90% decline in their population in just 32 years. Sumatran rhinos are threatened due to habitat loss, poaching, and fragmentation of land. The last Sumatran rhino in Malaysia died in 2019, and just 80 rhinos are left in Indonesia.
8. Amur Leopards
One of the world’s rarest cat, the Amur Leopards are native to the region of southeastern Russia and northern China. These nocturnal animals have luscious black-ringed coats and a long furry tail. Amur Leopard is one of the most endangered big cats on the planet. Merciless hunting and destruction of their native land are a few major reasons that contributed to the decline in their population. As recent as 1970, there were less than 30 individuals left in the wild. However, recent reports have shown that conservation work has started showing a positive effect, with the number increasing to 90.
9. Cao-Vit Gibbon
The second-rarest ape in the world, the Cao Vit Gibbon belongs to southeast China and northern Vietnam. They are known as the king of swingers, because of their breathtaking acrobatic performances. Cao Vit Gibbon was declared extinct in the 1960s, and there was no sighting from 1960 to 2000. However, in 2002 a group of biologists rediscovered a small population of these species in northeast Vietnam. Deforestation, poaching, and encroachment are the primary reasons for the decline in their population. They are one of the most critically endangered species in the world, with only 100 individuals living in China and Vietnam.
10. California Candor
The largest North American land bird, the California Condor is a new world vulture with wings stretching nearly up to 10 feet. They were considered sacred birds by the native Americans, with black and white patches on the wings. Condor is also the world’s longest-living bird with a lifespan of 60 years. They have been on the IUCN’s list of critically endangered animals since 1967. Poaching, slow reproduction, lead poisoning, and illegal egg collection are some of the factors that lead to a decline in their population. Several captive breeding programs have been introduced by conservationists to protect the species. There are about 160 California condors alive on the whole planet.
The world’s only flightless parrot, the Kakapo is a large ground-dwelling bird belonging to New Zealand. These nocturnal birds are also called owl parrots and are one of the world’s longest-living birds. Although Kakapo was historically important to the native people of New Zealand, they were heavily hunted, both for its meat as well as for their feathers. With the introduction of predators, the species suffered a huge decline in their population and cleared off the north island in the 1930s.
With different conservation programs started by the New Zealand government in 1980, they were able to bring some of the population back. Kakapo is still a critically endangered species with just 210 individuals alive on the planet. All of them carry radio transmitters and are heavily monitored and managed to protect them from extinction.
The world’s rarest antelope, the Hirola is found between Kenya and Somaliya. These medium-sized antelopes are often referred to as living fossils. The population of Hirola has been reducing drastically since the 1970s. One of the major reasons for such a sudden decline in their population was the introduction of rinderpest disease in the 1980s, which killed about 90% of the existing population. The world’s most endangered antelope has a bit of a low profile and is not under the care of conservationists. There are less than 500 Hirolas left in the whole world, living on the border of Somalia.
Despite the efforts of researchers and conservationists, hundreds of animals are still poached in many parts of the world. Every year at least 50 new species are added to the list of critically endangered species. It is high time that we start respecting nature and wildlife around us, to maintain the balance of our planet. At least 750 species have gone extinct in the last 200 years. Here is a list of the species that have recently gone extinct from our planet.