10 Definitions of what Critically Endangered means
1. The Amur Leopard
This is a rare subspecies of the leopard. The animal only live in the cold and snowy northern parts of Asia, where other members of the leopard family wouldn’t last the winter. It’s the only of it’s kind to adapt to cold climate. What makes it possible is a think coat of fur, covered by the all famous leopard spot pattern.
It’s habitats includes small parts of the Primorye region of south-eastern Russia and the Jillin province in north-eastern China. Lately, the habitats in China have been under question if any animals remain. Previously, the Amur leopard has been occupying some parts of Korea as well.
It’s so rare, it’s under the Critically Endangered graph since 1966 till now. Only 15-20 adults have been counted in 2007. Including the cubs, no more than 26 animals in total remain in existence.
The main threats to their survival are poaching, forest degradation, development projects, inbreeding
2. Javan Rhinoceros
Out of the five extant species of rhinos, the Javan rhinoceros is the most rarest and endangered. Only 40-60 animals remain in existence on the Island of Java (thus the name) in Indonesia.
There have been number of rhinos, documented in captivity, but the animal doesn’t strive when captured. While the wild animals live up to 40 years, the oldest captive one reached 20 before passing away. Furthermore, there hasn’t been one case of a captive Javan rhino giving offspring.
Pre-2011, Vietnam was also a sitting of the species, but the last remaining rhino of the population was slain by poachers in the same year. Previous habitats include Assam, Bengal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and possibly Borneo. However, the animal has been hunted down for his horn.
Folklore recipes used the horn to create medicine for various illnesses, but it hasn’t been documented whether it actually works, or it’s only mythology.
Now the few remaining species are protected in the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia.
3. The Northern Sportive Lemur
The names comes mainly from the stance of the animal. In casual position, the lemur looks like ready to box. This species can be located, only and restrictedly in the northern ranges of Madagascar.
Due to degenerating habitats, resulting from logging in their ranges, the lemur, in general, has been steadily declining in numbers. That and illegal hunting are the main reason for endangering the entire family of species.
No more than 20 individual animals from the Northern Sportive Lemur species remain in existence.
4. The Right Whale
The Right whale is actually a group of three species of the animal, based on their common territory. The North Atlantic, North Pacific and Sounther Right whales are of the larger members of the whale family. They are migrant species, so they don’t have an exact habitat.
Reaching sizes of 18 metres and 100 tonnes, these marine behemoths are smaller than their blue brother, but significantly larger than most other species.
The name Right comes from the old 19th century whale hunting era. Then, this species was considered preferential to hunt, due to it’s amounts of whale oil and it’s buoyancy after death, thus the name “Right”.
It’s the most endangered of all whales and amounts to no more than 350 animals in total. Although the hunting days, which nearly drove it to extinction are far over, the Right whale still suffers from human actions. Industrial fishing gear, left behind at sea is a very common killer of the whale in general. When entangled with the various nets, lines and other gear, the whales often can’t reach the surface and drown.
5. The Saola
Often referred to as the Asian unicorn, this animal is so rare and mystical. It was first discovered in 1992, when scientists found odd shaped skulls in a hunters hut. Later, it was seen in 1998 and 1999, but afterwards it disappeared and was unseen until 2010. In that year, a living specimen was captured by villagers in Laos, but died, before it could be returned into the wild. In 2013, a major discovery occurred, when a camera trap captured the Saola in it’s lenses.
It’s known to resemble an antelope, even though scientists say it’s closer related to cattle. It features two straight and somewhat parallel running horns on it’s head. An adult animal is not more than a metre high at shoulder level and around a metre and half in length.
Information on the Saola is scarce, as it’s yet to be studied in it’s natural habitat. Numbers are though to be near zero, but after the discovery, scientists are optimistic of it’s future and survival.
6. Leatherback Sea Turtle
It’s the biggest turtle in the world. The Leatherback is also the fourth biggest reptilian in the world, making way only to the biggest crocodiles like the American Alligator, or the Saltwater Crocodile. The biggest differentiation from other turtles is it’s shell. Instead of having the hard-boned shell, it’s carapace is covered by hardened skin and flesh. It’s flexible and rubbery, with unique sharp edges on the top, making it stand out significantly from other turtles.
The Leatherback has no known location, as it has bigger territorial range than any other animal in existence. It’s known to nest in the sub-tropical sandy beaches, but it travels all the way to the sub-polar regions and inhabits the icy waters.
Since 1982, it’s population has shrunk more than three times. It’s status stands at vulnerable, but it loses numbers in such a drastic amount, it can go extinct in a couple of years time.
The largest reason for it’s endangerment is the exploitation of it’s nests. The eggs are stolen and eaten as delicacy, or give some other application. Marine pollution is also a big threat. Plastic, in particular, is sometimes mistaken for food, when in smaller pieces and ingested.
7. Mountain Gorilla
This ape is one of the largest in the gorilla family. It’s one of the subspecies of the eastern gorilla. It’s habitats are various regions of Uganda, including the Bwindi Impenetrable Nation Park in Uganda and the Virunga Mountains in the Republic of Congo.
Those habitats suffer major territorial losses due to coal production and agricultural development. All of this and illegal hunting, war and instability in the African continent has shrunk down the Mountain gorilla species to no more than 620 individuals in 1989. Because of it’s bulky size and threatening posture, once it was thought the gorilla is dangerous to the nearby inhabitants, so it was slain and hunted mercilessly. However, in reality, the species is gentle and peaceful and would not attack unless threatened.
Later, conservation efforts have managed to not only protect the remaining animals, but also allow them to increase in number in the following years.
Now there are 880 Mountain gorillas, which shines an optimistic light on the matter of protecting the endangered life around us.
8. White-headed Langur
This small primate inhabits the caves in the Cat Ba Island in Vietnam and often it bears the name - Cat Ba Langur. Some small populations are found also at Guanxi, China. They are highly social and live in groups. While a part of the group goes hunting and scavenging, the others protect the young members of the species and their homes. They are excellent and agile climbers.
What’s left of the species is around 60-70 protected individuals. What’s led to such extinction is hunting and habitat loss, due to development and pollution. They are now protected by law.
9. Island Fox
This is a small fox, occupying the Channel Islands of California. It divides into six other subspecies, depending on the location/island they inhabit. It’s one of the smallest foxes in North America, only reaching 50 centimetres of length, excluding the tail.
The Golden Eagle increase in population after the 1990s became an extremely severe issue in their survival. Since the bird is a few times larger than the Island Fox, it easily made it it’s pray and the population of the foxes dwindled.
The introduction of new animal species to the islands in the previous century caused a degradation to their habitat and food supply, which contributed to their extinction. Because the fox populations are isolated from the outer world, they are very vulnerable to introduced diseases and viruses.
There are now less than 700 individuals, including all six subspecies.
10. Spoon-billed Sandpiper
This little bird bears it’s name from the distinctive shape of it’s bill. Rather than sharp and pointy, it spreads out like a spatula, or a spoon, thus the name. The little creature reaches sizes of only 16 centimetres in the adult individuals.
It inhabits the lands of North-eastern Russia and South-eastern Asia. Estimates tell us fewer than 1000 of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper remain in the world.
Deforestation and development are the most critical reasons for it’s extinction, since they destroy their natural habitats.
Non of these, or any other species have gone extinct due to natural reasons. Every endangered species has to thank humanity’s actions and decisions for it’s fate in the world.
Development, deforestation and logging, pollution, waste and hunting are all actions we chose to do, and not forced to do. We have to take responsibility for our own deeds, and if we’re to make amends, we must rethink our whole idea of existence in this world. All creatures were made to co-exist in a complex life-system. It may seem brutal at times, but everything has evolved into it’s place on this world and destroying it, we slowly destroy the entire system, including us.
It’s not only a mater of preserving unique species, but a matter of our survival as well.
About Audrey Wright:
She’s a freelance writer, blogger and graphic designer from London. She graduated the City of Westminster College with an A-level degree in English Language and Literature.
She is a co-author at dGeneralist and a contributer to Move out Mates