Endangered means to be under threat or near extinction.  When a species/animal is endangered it means that they are disappearing fast or have a very small population - not large enough to survive.


Endangered Animals

Greater horseshoe batGreater Horseshoe Bat: Rhinolophus ferrumequinum

IUCN Status: least concern

Population trend: increasing

There are eighteen species of bat in Britain and all of them are endangered - though globally they are listed as 'Least concern' as numbers in other countries remain higher - though the IUCN's Red List has marked their population as 'declining'.  

The greater horseshoe bat is one of the rarest in Britain and is confined to south-west England and south Wales.  One reason for their decline is the destruction of suitable roosting sites, such as old buildings and hollow trees.  Changing land use from woodland and small fields to large scale agriculture has also had an effect.  They have also suffered from the use of insecticides (poisonous chemicals sprayed on to crops to kill harmful insects) which have deprived the bats of their insect food.  Due to conservation efforts its population in the UK has slightly increased in recent years to about 6,600.

Siberian TigerSiberian (Amur) Tiger           

Panthera tigris ssp. altaica

IUCN status:  Endangered

Population trend: decreasing

Population:  540

Cold, snowy Siberia, Russia, is home to the largest of all the tigers, the Siberian tiger.  They were once found across the far east of Russia, northern China and the Korean peninsula.  It is now found in the Khabarovsk and Primorski provinces of Russia and in small areas of northern China and possibly North Korea.

Population: It is highly endangered although its numbers have increased from since hunting brought it to an all time low of around 40 individuals in the 1940s.  There are now an estimated 540 Amur tigers in the wild, according to WWF. Hunting and loss of habitat have reduced their numbers and there is little genetic diversity in the remaining population, increasing their vulnerability.

Loggerhead Turtle © Damien du Toit CC BY 2.0Loggerhead Turtle

Caretta caretta

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population trend: decreasing

This threatened reptile lives in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Black Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In the past its main dangers were hunting for its shell and meat. Now it is being disturbed by tourists populating the sandy beaches where it lays its eggs. In Turkey, hotels have been built right on its breeding sites. Out at sea, the turtles sometimes become entangled in fishing nets and drown.  A possible new threat to them may be the increase in sand temperatures which determines the sex of the turtle.  Warmer temperatures could result in an excess of females!  There are currently estimated to be 40,000 to 50,000 nesting females.

Northern Blad Ibis © Martin Pettitt CC BY 2.0Northern Bald Ibis

Geronticus eremita

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population trend: decreasing

Population: Morocco is home to 95% of the truly wild colonies of the ibis where populations are increasing and now number over 500 birds.  Syria also has a small and declining population with only 5 mature birds (IUCN; 2006).  Parts of North Africa and the Middle East are visited by these migrating birds.  Turkey also have a healthy semi-wild population of reintroduced birds, numbering 91 in 2006 (IUCN).  However, the use of pesticides on the marshes and grasslands where it lives is reducing the numbers.

Part of the ibis' decline is due to natural causes. It nests high above the ground and its eggs are so round that some of them roll out of the nest and break. However disturbance of nesting sites and feeding grounds is a more significant factor.  The Ancient Egyptians used to depict this bird in their heiroglyphic writing, but it no longer lives in Egypt.

White Tailed Eagle © Arjan Haverkamp CC BY 2.0Black rhino

Diceros bicornis

IUCN Status: Critically endangered.

Population trend:  increasing.

Population: 4,880 in 2010 (IUCN).

This species has seen its numbers drop from an estimated 70,000 in the 1960s to an estimated 2,410 in 1995.  It has been declared extinct in West Africa in 2011.  Rhino horn is used as an ingredient in Chinese medicine.  As a result of this, poaching is the biggest threat to the black rhino's survival.  Poachers kill rhinos, then saw off their horns for sale to countries like China and Vietnam.  There are less than 5,000 of them left alive in Africa.  Monitoring and protection, along with anti-poaching measures are being undertaken to protect this extremely endangered species.

Photo by Geoffrey Oddie

Lion Tailed MacaqueLion-Tailed Macaque
Macaca silenus

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population trend: decreasing.

Population: Less than 4,000.

This small monkey is only found in south-west India's tropical rainforests. Many of these forests have been cleared and replaced with tea and coffee plantations. Unlike some other animals, the lion-tailed macaque has not been able to adapt to these new habitats. Poachers have also captured baby macaques, often killing their parents in the process, for illegal export to collectors.

Mandarin DuckMandarin Duck
Aix galericulata

IUCN Status: Least concern

Population trend: decreasing.
The mandarin duck (the brightly coloured male is illustrated) may often be seen on ponds and lakes in Britain, but its native home is across eastern Asia, in Russia, China, Korea and Japan. It may be found on water which is near forests, but the forests are being felled and the water drained, making the duck more and more endangered.

GorillasMountain Gorilla
Gorilla beringei subspecies beringei.

IUCN Status: Critically endangered

Population trend: decreasing

Population: 880

Mountain gorillas are to be found in the Virunga range of extinct volcanic mountains on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda and in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.  Only discovered in 1902, mountain gorillas have suffered considerably because of human activities, including war, habitat destruction, hunting and capture for the illegal pet trade.  There were just 620 mountain gorillas left in 1989, but since then, successful conservation efforts mean that the population is gradually increasing again.

Jackass Penguin © Graham Racher CC BY-SA 2.0 Jackass Penguin (African penguin, Black-footed penguin)
Spheniscus demersus

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population trend: decreasing

Population: around 80,000 mature individuals

The jackass penguin is the only penguin to be found in Africa, and it was once the country's most common sea-bird. It lives off the coast of Namibia and South Africa, and the waters here have been over-fished by humans, depriving the birds of their food supply. Oil pollution also threatens them, as does the taking of their eggs for food.

humpback whaleBlue Whale
Balaenoptera musculus

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population trend: increasing

Population: An estimated 10,000 - 25,000 (3-11% of the 1911 population). (IUCN)

The largest animal ever to have lived on our planet, the blue whale, lives mainly in the cold waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, where it finds enough plankton to sustain it. It migrates to tropical seas to breed. The blue whale has been a protected species since 1966, but thousands were killed up until then. During the whaling season of 1930 to 1931 alone, 30,000 blue whales were killed by Antarctic whalers.  It will take more than one hundred years of protection before we can be sure that it will not become extinct.

NumbatNumbat (Banded anteater)
Myrmecobius fasciatus

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population trend: decreasing

Population: under 1000

Sometimes called the banded anteater, the numbat was once common in the bush and forest of north-eastern and southern Australia. It is now only found in the most western part of eastern Australia. When man introduced predatory animals such as cats, dogs and foxes, these animals ate many numbats. Their numbers are still declining for the same reasons and also because their habitat is being cleared for farming and mining.  Frequent fires destroy the logs which the animals use to shelter.

Komodo Dragon © Adhi Rachdian CC BY 2.0Komodo Dragon
Varanus komodoensis

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Population trend: stable (National Geographic)

Population: 3,000 - 5,000 (National Geographic)

The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in the world and lives on a few small Indonesian islands. It is a powerful predator and can measure as much as 3 metres in length. There are about 3,000 Komodo dragons in total, but they seem to be slowly declining. They live mainly on uninhabited islands, so are in no great danger from humans. Scientists think that natural causes are to blame. There are more males than females alive, and also the natural plant life seems to be changing and the lizards are not adapting well to their new environment.

Golden Lion Tamarin © Sebastian Bergmann CC BY-SA 2.0Golden Lion Tamarin
Leontopithecus rosalia

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population Trend: decreasing

Population: Over 1000.

This tiny monkey is one of the most endangered of all animals in South America. The few that are left, are restricted to the only remaining coastal rainforest, southwest of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Forest destruction is the main reason for the tamarin's decline, but it is also in danger of being captured alive and sold as a pet - a strictly illegal practice which still goes on in secret. At their worst, numbers declined to as low as 250 but due to a captive breeding and reintroduction programme they have increased to a healthy 1000 and live in a protected area of forest.  The problem they face now is that they do not have room to expand due to the fragmention of their habitat.  Fires started by cattle farmers are a continued threat.

Spectacled Bear © Tim Snell CC BY-NDSpectacled Bear (Andean bear)
Tremarctos ornatus

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Population trend: decreasing

Population: no sufficient data; estimates of fewer than 3,000 (National Geographic)

This bear gets its name from a yellowish mask which makes it appear to be wearing a pair of spectacles! It lives in the forest-covered mountains of several South American countries. As the forests are cleared for farming, the bear's numbers fall. Even though it is protected by law, the spectacled bear is still killed by poachers for its fur, meat and fat.  It is likely to meet IUCN's criteria for Endangered status by 2030, because of an increasing human population and the habitat destruction this will bring in the areas where it lives.

California Condor © Sequoia Hughes CC BY 2.0Californian Condor
Gymnogyps californianus

IUCN Status: Critically endangered

Population trend: increasing

Population: 104 adults, but currently only 44 are producing offspring.

During the nineteenth century this large bird of prey lived in the mountains of many areas of North America. It started to decline last century when it was killed by gold diggers who collected its long black feathers. Disturbance of its habitat by tourists, pesticides and low-flying aircraft also contributed to its downfall.  In 1987 the last remaining wild Californian condors were taken into captivity.  They have since been reintroduced to the wild with some success, but they are still at great risk.

Black Footed FerretBlack-Footed Ferret

Mustela nigripes

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population trend: decreasing

Population: 500 (breeding adults).

The black-footed ferret is America's rarest mammal. It was considered extinct in the wild in 1987.  Its decline was due to the decline of its primary prey, prairie dogs.  Prairie dogs were regarded as pests by farmers and many were killed as a result, meaning that black-footed ferrets lost their main food source.  Canine distemper and plague also affected black-footed ferrets.  Since 1987 as a result of captive breeding programmes, over 8,000 kits have been born in captivity and over 3,900 have been reintroduced into the wild.  The wild population is in decline again, and 2015 estimates suggest there are less than 300 breeding adults in the wild.

Read More: Beginning of Life

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