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As the planet spins around on its axis, species of all kinds are forced to find new ways to survive. While this is the natural way of things, it seems humans play a larger role in contributing to the future of what our world will eventually become. Whether it be on a political or personal level, our fellow earthlings are going through trying moments, living a life where their very existence has come into danger. While there are organizations dedicated to ensuring protection for some such species, climate change and criminals pose an immense threat to the future of their well-being. By raising awareness, we can come together and join in on the work these organizations are doing, reduce our use of wasteful materials, and approach the way we consume at a more conscious level in order to protect beloved animals on the brink of extinction.
The Bornean orangutan, found on the island of Borneo and Sumatra, is threatened with extinction as the palm oil industry continues to destroy their habitat. Palm oil is widely consumed and found in many household products, including dish soap and laundry detergent. Due to supply and demand, deforestation of these sacred habitats are a target for industrial purposes. While we share 97 percent of our DNA with these primates, the Bornean orangutan population has declined by more than 50 percent in the past 60 years. According to the WWF, there is an estimated 45,000 to 69,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild. Due to deforestation and habitat loss, this group of endangered species are left to fend for themselves, often wandering into towns for food and shelter before being captured and sold into the pet trade, killed for body parts, or used for medicinal purposes.
Since this beloved animals discovery in 1983, the Ili Pika is said to be one of the most fragile species in the world due to conflicts surrounding natural resources and state of their habitat. These rabbit-like creatures were said to have originally lived in mountain valleys to easily cross to new locations, but scientists are noticing more of the ili pika moving to higher ground. Studies show climate plays a major role in this shift, as they move to avoid extreme heat caused by greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the ili pika must adapt to the colder environment of mountain tops. While they are able to increase body heat due to a fast metabolism, once the summer months return, many ili pika are not able to regulate their body temperature to homeostasis. While they can easily fit into the category of one of the cutest, most unique animals, this plays a major role in driving the ili pika into extinction, as there are less then 1,000 of them left.
Native to the Amazon River, this predator was being exploited for its fur and almost completely wiped them off the face of the Earth. While the fur trade has since been banned, there are still several threats the giant otter faces. Illegal gold mining activity and deforestation pose largely unknown consequences, such as mercury and other harmful contaminants polluting the water. Although this isn’t a direct consequence, these instances harm the water they hunt for food in, which eventually ends up in their system and could prove lethal to the species as a whole. As one of the top predators in the region, there are no other animals that pose a bigger threat to the giant otter. Except for humans, of course.
This group of felines have been hunted over the years while their habitats have been destroyed due to forest fires, industrial development, road building, and farming. The Amur Leopard hunt alone, which makes them susceptible to human threats. While conservation efforts are in place, there are only 90 adult Amur leopards in the wild throughout their native habitats in Russia and China. It’s important that we take care of this species, as they are a top predator within their ecosystem, keeping a crucial balance to the wildlife that exists in the area.
Found North of the equator, the Galapagos penguin’s small size make them a target of many predators in the water, as well as on land; including owls, snakes, sharks, and sea lions. Galapagos penguins live faithfully with their partners and breed once per year, laying only two eggs. Due to their limited reproductive rate, extreme susceptibility to climate change, by-catching, and pollution, the planet is left with less then 2,000 of these beloved animals.
Victims of the poaching industry, the Sumatran Elephant is among many beloved animals on the brink of extinction. Constant threats persist as they are illegally killed for their husks. The ivory industry has resulted in Sumatran Elephants going from endangered to critically endangered in 2012. Aside from poaching threats, human interference has resulted in habitat loss for these elephants as their habitat continues to decline.
Steller Sea Lions
This playful group of sea lions, often confused for California sea lions, are not shy with humans, and often mimic divers underwater while showing off their graceful moves. Although playful in nature, they have been permanently listed on the list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Threats include pollution, habitat degradation, and illegal hunting. In recent news, a group of steller sea lions were shot and killed to preserve the salmon population for human food supply. While they are critically endangered, the National Marine Fisheries Service is taking action in reducing competition between steller sea lions and commercial fisheries. Of course, it's also important to remember not to feed marine animals (no matter how friendly they are), as this can put them into danger, too.
Native to the Virunga mountains in Africa; as well as ranges in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; mountain gorillas face multiple threats to their habitats and health. While they also fall victim to poachers, these beloved animals have been forced out of many areas due to human settlement. As they search for new areas to live and thrive, mountain gorillas are susceptible to catching many of our diseases, as well as the human cold. While we have treatments for these instances, many gorillas instead end up dying due to lack of proper care.
There are less than 400 of these beloved animals on the brink of extinction, as hunters continue to threaten their habitats and livelihood. Native to Indonesia, there have been increased efforts in protecting the Sumatran tiger by strengthening law enforcement and anti-poaching capacity. However, the imposed jail time does not seem to interfere with poachers, who crave the fortune that comes from their pelts and brave the price of arrest or violence to attain this wealth. If the rate of poaching continues, they might end up like the very last javan rhino, which was recently killed for its horn.
These beautiful creatures span a length of 80 to 100 feet long, and weigh an average of 200 tons. The blue whale are not only one of the largest creatures in the sea, as well as one of the biggest marine mammals in the world, they have already almost become extinct. While they remain endangered, their current threat is related to changing climates impacting their main prey, the krill. Although conservation efforts have been put into action as their food source diminishes, the blue whale will find it difficult to sustain their survival as a species.
There appears to be a common theme including the state of these beloved animals on the brink of extinction, including climate change and human threats. While the majority of us might not be a direct influence on these precious lives, it is crucial that we do our part in raising awareness, limiting our wasteful consumption of plastic goods and other pollutants, and getting involved with organizations that are passionate about protecting animals from the things that wish to harm them.