Extinction: Are We Next?
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
“Only when the last of the animals horns, tusks, skin and bones have been sold, will mankind realize that money can never buy back our wildlife.” - Paul Oxton
In 2018, biologists at the BirdLife International declared the po’ouli, a Hawaiian insect-eating bird, extinct. The Cryptic Tree-hunter and the Alagoas Foliage-gleaner, two Brazilian songbirds have also gone extinct. The most publicized extinction in 2018, was the extinction of the Spix's Macaw, the bluebirds in the animated film Rio. Also in 2018, the last male Northern White rhino died.
Extinction is natural, but it’s happening 1000 times faster than the normal speed. There is no doubt that human activities are driving some of these extinctions. Human activities that propel extinction include climate change, deforestation, pollution, and poaching.
Here is a list of the top endangered animals:
1. The Amur leopard. These animals are one of the worlds most endangered wildcats. The Amur leopard, which is native to the Russian far east, is in critical danger of extinction with only 60 Amur leopards living at Russia’s Land of the Leopard National Park.
2. The Sumatran elephant have lost 70% of their habitat to deforestation for palm oil plantations, human settlements, and agriculture in the past 25 years.
3. Gorillas. Both the Cross River Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas are classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. There are 200-300 Cross River Gorillas left, and about 900 Mountain Gorillas. The biggest threat to Mountain Gorillas being humans.
4. Orangutans. The IUCN has classified these animals as critically endangered. In the past 75 years, the Bornean orangutan's population has declined by approximately 80%.
5. Vaquita are the rarest marine mammals, and they are on the brink of extinction. These animals are often caught and drowned in gillnets used in illegal fishing operations. There are fewer than 15 Vaquita remaining.
6. Tiger. Three of the nine tiger subspecies have gone extinct. Many are endangered, but the two that are facing extinction are the Sumatran Tiger and the South China Tiger. However, the South China Tiger is thought to be extinct since they have not been spotted in the wild in over 25 years.
7. Rhinos. There are five species in the Rhinocerotidae family and three of those rhino species are the most endangered species in the world. The Sumatran Rhino, The Javan Rhino, and the Black Rhino.
The Sumatran Rhino is critically endangered. It is estimated that only 80 exist in the wild today. They are extremely threatened by poaching.
The Javan Rhino are the most threatened rhino species out of the five. There is an estimate of 58-68 Javan Rhinos in the world today.
The Black rhinos are also critically endangered. There are about 5000-5,400 black rhinos left.
8. The Yangtze finless porpoise. The Yangtze finless porpoise is known for its mischievous smile. They also have a level of intellective that is comparable to that of gorillas. However, these animals are critically endangered with about 1000-1800 remaining.
9. Insects. We view insects as pests and over the years we have come up with ways to get rid of them. However, insects are important in our agricultural ecosystem. More than 40% of insect species are declining, with a third of them being endangered. Insects are crucial for the functioning of all ecosystems researchers say. Insects are going extinct eight times faster than birds, reptiles, and mammals. At the current rate of extinction, insects as a whole will go extinct within a century and the aftermath of that is not one we want to experience. Without insects, the planet's ecosystem will inevitably collapse. Without these ecosystems, mankind will not survive. A term scientists use to explain this is the “bottom-up trophic cascade”. Think about it like the domino effect, you knock down the smallest piece which in return wipes out all the bigger pieces. You guessed it, the insects are the smallest piece of the domino, and we are the biggest. The collapse is inevitable, once the first piece goes down, the rest goes with it.
We’ll talk about coral reefs another day.