Although there might be up to 30 million different animal species in the world, which may seem like a lot, scientists estimate that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed on Earth are now extinct. Extinction is a natural process; a typical species used to become extinct within 10 million years of its first appearance, although some species survive with virtually no morphological change for hundreds of millions of years. However, these days, when the planet is bursting at the seams with over 7 billion humans, the species loss is occurring at a rate 1,000 times greater than the natural background rate. Ruthless human expansion, hunting, and the destruction of natural habitats, climate changes, pollution and other factors have caused an incredible number of animals to become extinct. Some scientists estimate that up to half of presently existing plant and animal species may become extinct by 2100. Alarming to say the least. To give you an idea of what kind of animals could possibly die off soon, here are 25 endangered animals our next generation might not see.
The Madagascar pochard is an extremely rare diving duck native to Madagascar. It was already thought to be extinct in the late 1990s, but in 2006 a few specimens were rediscovered at Lake Matsaborimena in Madagascar. Now, the total population of this species is just around 80 individuals. There have been many causes for the population decrease including introduction of numerous fish species in the lakes that killed most of the pochard chicks and damaged nesting sites. Rice cultivation, cattle grazing on the shores, burning of shore vegetation, introduced mammals (rats), and hunting are also factors that have led to the duck’s drastically low population.
Mississippi gopher frog
Endemic to the southern United States, the Mississippi gopher frog (also known as dusky gopher frog) is a rare species of 8 centimeters (3 inches) long frog living in coastal forests and intermittent freshwater marshes. Once abundant along the Gulf Coastal Plain in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, this frog´s population now counts just about 60 – 100 specimens. It has been dramatically decreasing due to reasons such as genetic isolation, inbreeding, droughts, floods, pesticides, urban sprawl and habitat destruction. Once abundant along the Gulf Coastal Plain in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, this frog´s population now counts just about 60 – 100 specimens. It has been dramatically decreasing due to reasons such as genetic isolation, inbreeding, droughts, floods, pesticides, urban sprawl and habitat destruction.
Sometimes also referred to as Paroon Shark, the giant pangasius is a species of freshwater fish found in the Chao Phraya and Mekong basins in Indochina. Reaching up to 300 centimeters (9.8 feet) in length and weighing up to 300 kg (660 pounds), the fish has been exceedingly overfished for meat, aquarium trade but also religious ceremonies and rituals. The exact numbers of their population is not known but probably, there might be just as few as several hundreds of these fish. Sometimes, they are kept in aquariums but they cannot reach their normal size in there.
Native to some of Southeast Asian countries, the Siamese crocodile is a critically endangered species of crocodile that have been already wiped out from most regions where it used to live. Extinct from 99% of its original range, this little crocodile is considered one of the least studied and most critically endangered crocodilians in the world. Human disturbance and habitat occupation have caused that there are only tens specimens of this species living in the wild. Fortunately, the Siamese crocodiles are extensively bred in captivity, so hopefully, they will be reintroduced to the areas that used to belong to them for millions of years.
Also known as Hunter’s hartebeest, Hirola is an antelope species native to grassy plains on the border between Kenya and Somalia. Since 1976, the population of the antelope has declined significantly, more than 80 percent. The main threats to the species’ survival include disease, predation, competition for grazing and water with domestic livestock, habitat loss and poaching. Currently, there may be between 500 and 1000 animals in the wild with none kept in captivity. Therefore, the danger of extinction is very real in this case. The loss of the Hirola would be the first extinction of a mammalian genus on mainland Africa in modern human history. Hopefully, it will never happen.
Yes, there are even insect species that the next generations might only have a chance to see in books and documentaries. Franklin´s bumblebee is characterized by a solid black abdomen and a yellow thorax with a black and U-shaped design. Scientists are not sure if this bumblebee species is still living or has gone extinct already. It has been known to only live in a 190-by-70-mile (310 by 110 km) area in southern Oregon and northern California, between the coast and Sierra-Cascade mountain ranges, however, the last time it was seen was in 2006.
Northern bald ibis
Also known as hermit ibis, northern bald ibis is a large migratory bird found in barren, semi-desert or rocky habitats. Once widespread across the Middle East, northern Africa and even southern and central Europe, this species´ population has dwindled dramatically over the centuries with only about 500 wild birds remaining in southern Morocco, and fewer than 10 in Syria. To save this bird that has been around for millions of years according to the fossil founds, recent reintroduction programs have been instituted internationally, with a semi-wild breeding colony in Turkey, Austria, Spain, and Morocco. The reasons for the species’ long-term decline are unclear, but hunting, loss of foraging habitat, and pesticide use might be among them.
Native to parts of southeastern Russia and northeast China, the Amur leopard is a thick-coated subspecies of leopard. With males measuring up to 136 cm (54 in) and weighing up to 48 kg (106 lb), the Amur leopard is the only leopard subspecies adapted to a cold snowy climate. In 2007, there were as few as just about 20 individuals of this amazing predator but fortunately, their population has slightly expanded in the recent years, particularly thanks to the Russian government which invested 17 million dollars to establish a special national park dedicated to this critically endangered species. In 2012, there were about 50 Amur leopards in the wild so let us wish them bright prosperous future and better living conditions.
Inhabiting deep slopes of coral reefs of the Indian Ocean, and the western and central Pacific Ocean, nautilus is a pelagic marine mollusk. The population of this mollusk might not be as drastically low as those of some other species from the list yet, however there is a good reason why we included nautilus in the list. Fossil records indicate this creature has been living on Earth for incredible 500 million years which means it has survived several mass extinctions and great changes of the planet. But paradoxically, it is now when this species is the closest to being wiped out forever due to exceeding overfishing. Since there are currently no national or international regulations protecting this ancient creature, the risk of this species´ loss is very high.
Cuban greater funnel-eared bat
Endemic to Cuba, the Cuban greater funnel-eared bat is a species of bat characterized by reddish-brown fur with a paler belly, black, stiff hairs above the upper lip and white hairs below the lower lip. This critically endangered species only inhabits one cave in Cueva La Barca. The population is relatively abundant in that single cave, counting about 100 individuals, but the roof of the cave has been constantly collapsing, placing the bats in extreme jeopardy. The Cuban greater funnel-eared bat was once commonly found all over Cuba but forest destruction and cave modification have driven them out of all their natural habitats.
Currently, there are two populations of the mountain gorilla. One is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three national parks located in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The other lives in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Due to many factors such as poaching, habitat loss, wars and diseases transmitted from livestock and tourists, their global population shrank to just a few hundreds in the 1990´s. However, recent conservation efforts have led to an increase in the population which is now believed to be at least 880 individuals.
Inhabiting shallow seas, sub-tidal aquatic beds, rocky shores, and estuarine waters of Chinese coast, the Chinese bahaba is a species of large fish reaching lengths of up to 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) and weights of over 100 kilograms (220 lb). The fish is threatened by massive overfishing that continues despite legal protection in China. Bahaba is particularly desired for its swim bladders that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. In 2012, for example, one specimen of the fish was sold for incredible 300,000 dollars. The exact numbers of this fish population are not known but there might be just a few last survivors.
Hula painted frog
Endemic to the Lake Hula marshes in Israel, the Hula painted frog was thought to be already extinct until its rediscovery in 2011. The frog, whose direct ancestor lived approximately 32 million years ago, is a relatively poorly understood species because so far, just a few specimens have been found by scientists. In 1996, the only area where this frog lived was less than 2 square kilometers (0.7 square miles). Thanks to conversation efforts that included rehydration of the habitat, the tiny population of the Hula painted frog is believed to have stopped dwindling and in 2013, at least 10 individuals were found in the area.
Officially known as Poecilotheria metallica but often referred to by many other common names such as gooty sapphire or peacock parachute spider, the metallic tarantula is a species of tarantula native to deciduous forest in central southern India. We know that few people like these large spiders but this species also deserves to stay on the planet with us. Unfortunately, future prospects of the metallic tarantula are not very bright. Due to massive habitat degradation and specimen collection for pet trade, the population of these spiders has drastically declined. They are currently found only in a forest reserve covering an area of less than 100 square kilometers (39 sq miles).
Greater bamboo lemur
Currently restricted to southeastern Madagascar, the greater bamboo lemur is the largest species of bamboo lemur. The primate is notable for his ability to eat poisonous bamboo shoots although it is unknown how their metabolism deals with the cyanide found in the shoots; strong enough to kill humans. Unfortunately, the chance of understanding these animals is quite poor, since the greater bamboo lemur is one of the world’s most critically endangered primates, once even thought to be extinct. Estimates suggest there are currently just about a few hundreds of these lemurs living in less than 4% of what used to be their natural habitat.
Also known as Sunda rhinoceros or lesser one-horned rhinoceros, the Javan rhinoceros, is a one of the smallest and rarest rhinoceros species. Once the most widespread of Asian rhinoceroses, ranging from the islands of Java and Sumatra, throughout Southeast Asia, and into India and China, the species is now critically endangered, with only one known population living in the wild, and no individuals in captivity. With just about 40 living specimens, it is possibly the rarest large mammal on earth. The decline of their population is mainly attributed to poaching, primarily for their horns, which are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, although it has been proved many times that the horns have no healing or any other special properties at all.
Officially called Squatina squatina but commonly known as monkfish, the angel shark is a species of shark once widespread in the coastal waters of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. The species has been caught for food for thousands of years and it is due to intense commercial fishing why this creature faces a real threat of extinction. Wiped out from vast majority of its historical natural habitat, this shark´s prospects seem to be bleak. Its low reproductive rate limits its capacity to withstand the population depletion, leaving the shark´s future entirely in the hands of conservationists and captive breeding programs.
Chinese crested tern
The Chinese crested tern is an extremely rare seabird recognizable by its distinctive yellow beak with a black tip. Similarly to several other species from the list, this bird was also thought to have been extinct for some time, until it was rediscovered in 2000. Excessive hunting and egg collection have caused the global population of this bird to dwindle to just one single colony of about 50 individuals. Protection of the colony is very difficult because it nests on a small islet in the Matsu Islands – a territory administered by Taiwan but claimed by mainland China.
Officially known as Pristis pristis, the common sawfish is a species of large, up to 7.5 meters (25 feet) long fish that used to be found in tropical and subtropical parts of the Atlantic, Mediterranean, eastern Pacific and even northern Australia. As the name suggests this fish was once plentiful, but its current population has declined drastically, resulting in the species being considered critically endangered. Unfortunately, massive exploitation and overfishing have driven this bizarrely looking creature out of more than 95% of what used be its natural habitat.
The silky sifaka is another large lemur now endemic to a very restricted range in northeastern Madagascar. Characterized by long, silky white fur, the primate spends most of its day feeding and resting but it also shows social behaviors, such as playing, grooming, or traveling. Unfortunately, hunting and habitat destructions such as slash-and-burn agriculture or illegal logging of precious woods, have placed this amazing, intelligent animal on the list of critically endangered species. Its population is estimated to range between 100 and 1,000 individuals, while the number of mature individuals is thought to be less than 250. What makes their situation even worse is the fact that no sifakas are kept in captivity.
Singapore stream crab
Officially known as Johora singaporensis, the Singapore stream crab is a critically endangered species of freshwater crab endemic to Singapore where it lives in streams running through undisturbed forests. Reaching a size of just 3 centimeters (1.2 in) when fully grown, this tiny nocturnal creature has been experiencing a drastic decline of its population. In fact, there are currently just two recorded populations of this species – one of these was inside Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, but recent surveys have failed to find any examples there. The second population is outside the nature reserve but its small size and isolation increases the threat of extinction.
Found in the Sakhalin Island (Russia), the Island of Hokkaido (Japan), and parts of the far eastern Russian mainland, the Japanese huchen (also known as Sakhalin taimen), is a large freshwater fish of the salmon family. The global population of the species has drastically dwindled in recent years for a variety of reasons such as overfishing, habitat loss, water pollution etc. The fish are also prized as trophies by Japanese recreational anglers. The exact numbers of the global Japanese huchen´s population are not known but scientists estimate that it has dropped in size to less than 5% of the historic levels.
Mexico is also struggling to save a critically endangered species that occupies several tiny parts of its territory. Commonly known as the “lobo”, the Mexican wolf is a subspecies of gray wolf native to the Sierra Madre and the surrounding area of western Mexico although it used to be found as far as in the southeastern U.S. states. Unfortunately, a combination of hunting, trapping, poisoning and digging pups from dens decimated the population of this beautiful animal down to just a few dozens of individuals. Luckily, several captive breeding and re-introducing programs to save this species from extinction have been launched.
Great Indian bustard
Found in several restricted areas in India and Pakistan, the great Indian bustard is a large, heavy bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs giving it an ostrich like appearance. Once widespread in both India and Pakistan, the population of this bustard species has been critically decimated due to lack of protection, rampant hunting and decline of the grasslands where it lives. In 2011, there were as few as just 250 individuals left in the wild, forcing the great Indian bustard on the very edge of extinction. Attempts to breed these birds in captivity failed so the only way to help them survive is making their remaining habitat a protected reserve.
Yangtze giant softshell turtle
Holding the title for being the largest freshwater turtle in the world, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle is an extremely rare species of softshell turtle that used to be found in Vietnam and China. This turtle´s fight for survival is the most intense and emotional from all the species in the list. As incredibly as it sounds, there are just 2 living individuals left! One male and one female are kept at a Chinese zoo where local researches and biologists have been impatiently waiting for them to breed and produce some off-springs. So far, the turtles´ attempt to reproduce haven´t been successful but the zoologists stay optimistic. Hopefully, they will make it and save the species.