With the extinction crisis at an all-time high, it is estimated that dozens of species disappear every day. That means by the time you finish reading this article two or maybe more species are no longer with us according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Deforestation and habitat loss is still the most significant threat to our critically endangered friends followed closely by poachers supplying the illegal wildlife trade with furs and body parts for the black market being sold on for traditional medicines.
Of all the critically endangered species, here are the top ten most likely to become extinct within the next decade. This has been based on estimated numbers still remaining in the wild and the rate of depletion of their environments.
1. Sumatran Tiger
Declining rapidly, there are only 400-500 Sumatran Tiger individuals left, making it's population the smallest of all tiger species. Last remaining populations can be found in pockets of Sumatra’s jungle.
Prolific poaching and deforestation have already seen them extinct elsewhere in the Indonesian archipelago like Java and Bali. Anti-poaching programs aren’t enough, poachers still remain the biggest threat as they hunt for the parts to sell on the black market in hopes of a big payday. Habitat destruction also increases human tiger encounters with angry villagers retaliating against livestock deaths as tigers, with no other option prey on their livestock.
Vaquita, the small porpoise population is poised on the brink of extinction. This small porpoise could vanish as early as next year, 2018. Only found within one lone stretch of ocean, the Gulf of California off the coast of Mexico, it is estimated that as little as 30 individuals are remaining in the wild according to WWF (World Wildlife Fund).
Vaquita is listed as the most endangered Cetacean in the world and the rarest of marine mammals, you had better hurry if you would like to see this marine treasure before it’s lost forever.
Stopping the use of gillnets and enforcing an entire gillnet ban throughout this regionis the only hope this species has of survival.
3. Sumatran Rhino
Being unique as the only Asian rhino with two horns and the smallest of all living rhinos, the Sumatran Rhino is also most closely related to the extinct Woolly Rhino. Baby rhinos are born covered in long hair which shortens with age.
Illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and lack of protection show a decline in numbers to fewer than 100 Sumatran Rhino individuals. With poaching a major threat and a slow reproductive rate experts already believe one of the subspecies to be extinct.
Highly prized Rhino horn used in the traditional medicines means poachers will continue to hunt these declining animals.
Saola, the tiny deer, is affectionately called the Asian Unicorn. This tiny deer remained hidden and safe until 1992 when a skull was discovered in a Vietnamese hunter’s home. The first new large mammal discovered in 50 years it caused a sensation. This secretive little deer is estimated between a few dozen at minimum and few hundred maximum.
Dr. Barney Long says “Only recently discovered, Saola are already extremely threatened”. Habitat loss is the number one factor in this species survival, closely followed by getting caught in snares laid out by hunters for other species like wild boar.
Also,hunted for the traditional medicinal trade, poachers gain easier access to their previously untouched mountain forests making this elusive deer more of a target daily.
5. Amur Leopard
With experts estimating, there are only around 60 Amur Leopard individuals left roaming their preferred forest and mountain habitats through Russia and China, this big cat is the most critically endangered of them all.
Agile, solitary and strong, this leopard has adapted perfectly to the temperate forests it inhabits but once again the illegal wildlife trade remains their biggest threat.Poachers relentlessly hunt them for their beautiful spotted pelts and also take a huge tollon their odds of survival by poachingfavored prey animals such as Roe Deer, Sika Deer and Hares.
“Amur leopards are teetering on the brink of extinction.” Says Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, the Managing Director of Species Conservation for WWF. As a result, conservation efforts are in full force with an antipoaching brigade established and patrolling throughout the Lazovsky State Nature Reserve working to protect this majestic big cat.
6. Tapanuli Orangutan
Tapanuli Orangutans are referred to by locals as “man of the forest”, this rarest of all great apes shares 96.4% of our genes and is highly intelligent. Tugging on heart strings the world over,this new species of Orangutan was only announced last year in November 2017. Labelled ‘most endangered great ape’ with less than 800 individuals.
For more about this species announcement here, Click Here
Essential for seed dispersal these great apes are sometimes called the ‘gardeners’ of the forest ensuring diversity of plant life and a thriving jungle ecosystem but this is threatened by hunting and the Illegal wildlife trade.
7. Javan Rhino
Javan Rhino is the most critically endangered of all five rhino species. Only 58-68 individuals are left living in the sanctuary of the Ujung Kulun National Park, in Java, Indonesia. Even this is being threatened due to habitat loss by an invasive palm species, the Arenga Palm reducing feeding areas.
Vietnam lost their last remaining Javan rhino to a poacher in 2010. On the brink of extinction this rhino species survival rests solely on the shoulders of this small population in Java. Several things impact their ability to survive as a species. These include poaching, disease, potential inbreeding, natural disasters such as tsunamis, volcanic eruption and an ever-rising sea level.
8. Cross River Gorilla
Cross River Gorillas are thought to be living within family groups in the densest forests and rainforest areas throughout a 3,000-square mile territory covering rugged mountainous terrain, only 11 groups are thought to remain. Consisting of 200-300 individuals existing within that area crossing the Cameroon and Nigeria border.
Deforestation due to clearing for lumber and agriculture means more and more people are encroaching on this Cross River Gorilla’s territory increasing the poaching risk. Although highly illegal, poaching of these gorillas still happens at the detriment of such a small population.
9. Malayan Tiger
Malayan Tigers are the only tiger in Thailand. Experts estimate only 250-340 individuals still exist in the wild.
Habitat loss due to increased infrastructure building roads and logging are having a huge impact of the Malayan tigers’ habitats. Human tiger conflict is on the rise due to angry villagers retaliating and killing tigers after they prey on livestock.
Poachers once again remain the biggest threat with the documentary On Borrowed Time highlighting the plight of these almost extinct tigers.
10. Hawksbill Turtle
Inhabiting the warmer tropical oceans of the world, Hawksbill Turtles are usually found hanging around coral reefs where their food supplies of sponges, sea anemones and jellyfish are most abundant.
One of the most popular sea creatures, Hawksbill Turtles also help maintain the health of reef ecosystems as fish are able to gain easier access to feed once the additional sponges have been removed.
Illegal wildlife trade is their major threat as their beautiful carapace (shell) is highly sought after. Tourism affects this as tourist continue to buy products and jewelry made from the shells of these beautiful sea turtles.
The good news is that between conservation projects, donations and the tireless efforts of volunteers, some of these species may be able to be saved in time. For others like that adorable little porpoise, the Vaquita it may already be too late. Although conservationist groups are racing against time trying to get an entire gillnet ban in place, it may not happen in time and another precious species will be lost from our oceans biodiversity with untold impact on the local ecosystems of that area.
If you know any species that will extinct faster than our TOP 10, let us know in a comment below and tell us why.