The animals that are at risk of being lost forever
When talking about endangered animals, surely you instantly thought of a panda, that has become a symbol for WWF and for the protection of endagered species around the world. Today, even though it is still a “vulnerable” species, the panda is no longer considered “endangered”. But what other animals risk extinction in Italy and around the world, and what can we do to save them? Let’s find out in this article.
The “red list” of endangered species
Did you know that there’s a “red list” of species at risk1. This list, which is produced each year by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is now considered a fundamental tool for conservation policy.
The list identifies species that are “extinct," “extinct in the wild” (that is, still surviving only in captivity, on farms, or outside their area of origin), “critically endangered” (which have a 50% probability of extinction over the next three generations), “endangered,” and “vulnerable.”
What is the main cause of extinction among many living species?
The causes of extinction for many animal species (as well as many species of plants) differ widely.
- The loss and degradation of natural habitats is undoubtedly one of the leading causes. The expansion of cities, intensive agriculture, deforestation, and the recovery of swampy areas, to name a few examples, completely distort habitats, and many species are unable to adapt to change.
- Hunting is another major cause of extinction for many species. Many animals are killed for food and others for display as hunting trophies (think big cats or rhinos), while others are killed accidentally (like dolphins caught in nets).
- Climate change and pollution do the rest. The poisoning of seas and rivers, the reckless increase in CO2 emissions, and the resulting variation in atmospheric conditions put the survival of plants and animals in constant jeopardy.
What animals are in danger of extinction?
Perhaps not everyone knows that there are more than 5,000 species of animals currently on the IUCN Red List that are at risk of disappearing from the face of the earth forever: to get a better idea, consider that this translates into about 26% of mammal species, 41% of amphibians, 14% of birds, and 36% of sharks2. This is an alarming figure, compounded by the fact that there are many animal and plant species that have not yet been assessed by the Organisation.
Of course, it’s impossible to list them all. However, it may be useful to list a few examples of the wonderful creatures that future generations may not get to know.
- Javanese Rhinoceros: Only about 70 specimens remain3.
- Tiger: According to experts, less than 3,000 specimens4 are in the wild, and many subspecies have long since become extinct.
- Amur Leopard: Considered the rarest feline in the world, there seem to be only 103 specimens in the wild5.
- Mountain gorilla: There are only 1,600 specimens left in the wild6.
- Vaquita: of this very rare species of porpoise endemic to the Sea of Cortez, only about 10 specimens remain7.
- Polar bear: the symbol of the climate crisis, there are about 26,000 specimens8 left that could become extinct in a few years.
- Sumatran elephant: according to the latest estimates, the last specimens remaining in the wild would be just over 2,0009.
- Koala: With more than 10,000 specimens dead due to the drought and recent forest fires that have devastated Australia, this species is now in danger of extinction10.
Of the animals in danger of extinction in Italy, we must mention the Marsican brown bear: only about 60 specimens remain11. Along with this, according to the IUCN Red List of Italian vertebrates, we run the risk of losing forever many other animals, such as the Apennine wolf, Bonelli’s eagle, the bat, the ibex, the common thresher, and the Mediterranean trout, with the latter being replaced by the Atlantic species.
Did you know that you can help save endangered animals?
As we’ve seen, the preservation of endangered species depends, above all, on the protection and conservation of their natural habitats.
If you’re wondering what you can do to save endangered animal species, the answer is: a lot!Every day, you can choose to adopt sustainable behaviours. For instance, you can reduce your plastic consumption.
When you go out, take a refillable water bottle with you, and check the Waidy WOW map to find the nearest public fountain and always have fresh water at hand. This way, you can avoid buying bottled water, thus reducing CO2 emissions and contributing to the fight against plastic pollution.
1 Source: The IUCN Red List
2 Source: The IUCN Red List
3 Source: The Jakarta Post
4 Source: WWF
5 Source: Wise Society
6 Source: WWF
7 Source: Lifegate
8 Source: WWF
9 Source: >Wise Society
10 Source: WWF
11 Source: Ohga