Snapshot: Endangered Wildlife

There are a lot of animals that one may think of when they think of endangered species. Tigers, elephants, rhinos, pandas and a few others jump immediately to mind. Sadly, those are only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many animals on the endangered species list that it would be impossible to mention them all. Below is a highlight of a few of the lesser-known ones which are in danger from anything from poaching to habitat destruction. 

FLORIDA BONNETED BAT

Formerly known as the Wagner’s mastiff bat, this is the largest of Florida’s bats, with a wingspan of up to 45cm. They are non-migratory, and roost in places like tree hollows and dead palm fronds. Their diet consists of primarily of flying insects that they catch while they fly. They can take flights from a flat surface and they are extremely rare, having only ever been seen in a handful of countries in Florida. Loss of natural roosting sites like pineland forest and mangroves, along with pesticide pollution have put them on the endangered species list.

ADDAX

Also known as the white antelope, or screw horn antelope due to its twisted horns, the Addax is rare in its native habitat in the deserts of North Africa. A close relative of the onyx, their coat is greyish brown in winter and almost completely white in summer. Both males and females have horns; male horns can grow up to 120cm, 40cm longer than the females. Excessive hunting for its horns, meat and hide are thought to be the main causes of the Addax’s huge population decline.

VAQUITA

Vaquita, which means ‘Little Cow’ in Spanish, is the smallest porpoise in the world, found only in the Gulf of California. Only discovered in 1958, they look as if they are wearing lipstick and mascara, due to the dark rings around their eyes and mouth. Fewer than 100 of these mammals are left, and scientists estimate that they will be extinct as early as 2018 because of fishermen in the gulf regularly catch these creatures in their gillnets by accident.

AXOLOTL

The Axolotl, or the Mexican Salamander, is unique in the fact that it retains its larval form throughout its life, keeping its tadpole-like dorsal fin and feathery gills that protrude from the back of its neck. Found exclusively in Xochimilco Lake near Mexico City, they can live for up to 15 years and grow up to a foot in length. Wild axolotls are close to extinction thanks to water pollution, habitat destruction and poaching (Axolotl is an Aztec delicacy).

ROLOWAY MONKEY

Found mostly in Ghana, the Roloway monkey is one of the most endangered primates in the world. An arboreal species feeding mainly on fruits and insects, they live in tropical forests and are not very adaptable to new habitats. These bearded monkeys face numerous threats, from dwindling habitat to poaching for their meat – roughly 800 tons of bushmeat is traded annually in Ghana alone.

GHARIAL

Native to India, they have long thin snouts that end in a bulbous tip. The tip resembles a pot used in India called that ‘Ghara’ and it is from this that the animals get their name. Once hunted for their skin, the main threat to them now is habitat destruction and pollution. They once thrived in major river systems across India, but are now extinct in the Indus, and survive in just 2% of their former range.

AMUR LEOPARD

This particular species of leopard is native to the Russian Far East, having adapted to live in the temperate forests that make up its habitat. Their behaviour is much the same as leopards of the savannah – they are adept climbers and hide their kills in trees to keep them safe from other predators. Hunted to the brink of extinction for its exquisite spotted fur, they are dangerously close to disappearing.

SUNDA PANGOLIN

A nocturnal, solitary animal that somewhat resembles an armadillo, they usually live in tropical forests and woodlands. The size of a small cat and covered in scales, they are so unique that they have their own mammal order – Pholidota. They have almost been hunted to extinction as they are considered a delicacy and are also used for medicinal purposes in China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia.

WHITE HANDED GIBBON

Possessing the long arms typical to gibbons, these primates are perfectly suited to swinging from branch to branch. They are incredibly agile, their movement so quickly that they often seem to be a blur. Even though they lack the tails most primates use for balance, they have not been known to put a foot wrong. One of the biggest threats to them is the illegal wildlife trade, with many of them even being recently found traded on Facebook as pets, or worse, to various buyers in Malaysia.

SOUTHERN CORROBOREE FROG

One of Australia’s most endangered species, this little frog is only found in small pockets in the Kosciuszko National Park. At about 2.5-3cm long, this amphibian got its name from the black and yellow stripes; its skin oozes a potent toxin, so has no natural predators, but is in danger from external factors, including climate change and habitat destruction from feral pigs, feral horses, and deer. However, the biggest threat is the virulent chytrid fungus, which is decimating frogs worldwide.

KAKAPO

The Kakapo is the world’s rarest and strangest parrot, being the only flightless one in existence, as well as the heaviest (up to 3.5kg). It is ground-dwelling, and subsists on a diet of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetation, and some insects. Females can only breed when particular tree fruit, which is once every two years, only laying one egg at a time. This slow breeding rate, coupled with how easy they are to catch, meant that they have almost been hunted to extinction. Only about 125 are left in the wild today.

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