Endangered Species Day: World’s most threatened animals

Endangered Species Day: World's most threatened animals

Every year on the third Friday in May, it’s Endangered Species Day. This day is dedicated to learning about, honoring, and taking action to protect threatened and endangered animals. Habitat loss, climate change, and human actions threaten countless species.

Here are some of the most unique yet critically endangered animals, based on data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Galápagos Pink Land Iguana

The Galápagos pink land iguana lives on Wolf Volcano in northern Isabela Island of the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. This unique iguana has a pink body with dark stripes, earning the nickname “pink iguana.”

Their population is severely threatened by habitat loss and invasive species. Despite conservation efforts, the Galápagos pink land iguana’s numbers remain alarmingly low. 

Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is one of the rarest and largest freshwater turtles globally. The animal is native to eastern and southern China and northern Vietnam. The turtle is considered functionally extinct with only two or three individuals remaining.

Siamese Crocodile

The Siamese crocodile is a medium-sized freshwater crocodile found in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. This critically endangered species has been wiped out from many regions, with less than 1% of its original range remaining.

The animals went almost extinct because of the widespread commercial hunting of Siamese crocodiles for the international fashion industry.

Endangered Species Day: World's most threatened animals Siamese Crocodile

Wild Camel

The wild camel is a distinct species living in isolated habitats in China and Mongolia. Critically endangered, there are approximately 600 wild camels in China and 450 in Mongolia, primarily inhabiting the Gashun Gobi (Lop Nur) desert and southwestern Mongolia.

The survival of the wild camel is threatened by habitat loss, human encroachment, and competition with farm animals. 

European Mink

The European mink is a semiaquatic mammal native to Europe. The animal primarily lives in forests and feeds on mice, frogs, fish, crustaceans, and insects. The species is critically endangered due to a significant decline in numbers over the past three generations, with an expected decline exceeding 80% in the next three generations.

The European mink faces threats from habitat destruction, climate change, and competition with the introduced American mink. 

Sumatran Orangutan

The Sumatran orangutan lives in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. The species’ range is now limited to northern Sumatra.

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered due to habitat loss from deforestation caused by palm oil plantations and illegal trade. 

Vaquita

The vaquita, a critically endangered porpoise species, inhabits the northern Gulf of California in Mexico. It is the smallest cetacean, measuring up to 1.5 meters and weighing around 55 kilograms. 

With fewer than ten individuals left in the wild, the vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Its distinctive features include dark rings around the eyes and a small, robust body with a triangular dorsal fin.

The primary threat to the vaquita is bycatch in illegal gillnets used for totoaba fishing, driven by high demand for totoaba swim bladders in traditional Chinese medicine. 

New ship Seahorse debuted in operation to save near-extinct vaquita porpoise
A mother and calf vaquita, Mexico, credit: Paula Olson/NOAA Fisheries/via Reuters

Javan Rhino

The Javan rhino is a critically endangered species, with fewer than 100 individuals left in the wild. Once widespread throughout Southeast Asia, Javan rhinos are now confined to Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Java, Indonesia. 

They are distinguished by their single horn and mosaic-like skin folds, giving them an armored appearance. 

Endangered Species Day: World's most threatened animals Javan Rhino

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