Since the Stone Age, humans have been hunting animals for their meat and skin. Food, clothing materials and even weaponry have been sourced from animals. Fast forward hundreds of years later, modern civilization remains highly dependent on animals. Unfortunately, the hunting of wildlife has increased to an alarming rate. These activities have left many species extinct and much more at the brink
In fact, according to World Wildlife Fund, one of the largest non-profit conservation organizations in the world, a staggering 10,000 species disappear from the face of the earth on a yearly basis, which happens thousands of times faster than the natural extinction rate
The most massive of all species of sea turtles, the Leatherback turtle can grow up to as long as eight ft. and weigh as much as 2,000 lbs. The species is also known for their ability to dive the deepest, able to submerge itself to depths of 1,000 meters or greater. The distribution of these species spans across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, where an abundance of their jellyfish prey can be found.
Because of the widely distributed population of Leatherback sea turtles, the conservation laws protecting them can vary immensely depending on the countries enforcing them. And while the animal does not have many predators to worry about once they mature, poaching remains a significant threat to the species, especially in isolated sandbars and islands that have few or infrequent wildlife patrols.
A lot of turtles are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, fishing gillnets, and longline hooks. Since they need to get to the surface to breathe, they risk being drowned once caught. As fishing is now expanding, this threat becomes more and more severe.
Furthermore, sea turtles need beaches for nesting. Since climate change is at its peak, sea levels are steadily growing, human development and vehicle traffic on the beach and other activities directly disturb breeding. Turtle nesting is also affected by egg collection (which mostly happens in Southeast Asia) which leads to species extinction.
Also referred to as Bare-Faced Tamarin, this primate is situated in the protected areas of Brazil’s massive Amazon rainforest. Characterized by their white chest and back and black, hairless face, the pied tamarin is an omnivore that feeds on both plants and animals.
Because of their relatively petite size, the pied tamarin has a variety of predators within its natural habitat including snakes, wild cats and dogs, predatory birds, and of course humans. Because these primates live in lowland parts of the tropical forest, deforestation continues to affect their survival as a species, and human development and buildings diminish their breeding land. Sadly, the Pied Tamarin is also a regular pet, being a frequent victim of illegal trading.
Perhaps one of the more openly addressed endangered species of animal is the black rhinoceros. Grayish in color, the black rhinoceros lives around the eastern and southern parts of Africa. The lifespan of black rhinos is expected to be at 35 to 50 years, but over time has lowered significantly due to poaching pressure, changes in the environment, and competing subspecies.
The illegal killing of rhinoceros is unarguably the biggest issue faced by the species. There is a huge demand for their horns, which many ethnic groups believe to be a cure for diseases or a booster for sexual stamina, both of which have not been scientifically proven. Rhinoceros horns can go for as much as $30,000 per pound, which is what’s fueling the poaching business indefinitely.
This elusive miniature version of much bigger alligator species grows to about 2 meters long and around 90 lbs. They can be found in wetlands, specifically around the Yangtze River, which was also once home to the now extinct river dolphin. To date, thousands of Chinese alligators are bred in captivity, but only a few hundred are estimated to be living in the wild, listing it as a Class One endangered species.
The species is being threatened with extinction because of extensive damage to its habitats as well as reduction of land area where they can thrive. Poaching is also a major issue being addressed since people living near their natural habitat would like them to disappear because they are considered dangerous and a threat. Furthermore, Chinese people believe the meat of the alligator to be an effective medicine for cancer prevention and flu, this fueling poaching and killing.
Mountain gorillas exhibit thicker and longer fur than other gorilla species. This allows them to live in higher and colder habitats that can be found in Africa. The species lives in forests that are high in the mountains, at about 8,000 to 13,000 feet. Their fur allows them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing.
Last year, the number of this gorilla species was estimated to be fewer than 1,000. The mountain gorilla is threatened by habitat loss, disease, and geopolitical turmoil. Displacement of communities due to warring factions are forcing humans to encroach the territory of mountain gorillas. People are starting to move towards their land, this forcing them to move farther into the mountains, enduring dangerous and sometimes even deadly weather conditions.
The Saola is also called other names like Siola and Spindlehorn and is one of the rarest mammals in the world. They live in the vast forests of the Annamite Range between Vietnam and Laos. Although the species was only discovered recently, it has already hit the Critically Endangered list. This is due to a variety of factors including sensitive habitat requirements and habitat loss.
Deforestation is trying to make room for agriculture, infrastructure, and various plantations and the Saola is being forced to live in smaller spaces. The rapid-scale building development in the area is also causing fragmentation of their natural habitat.
South China Tiger
In the early 1950s, the South China tiger species was flourishing at around 4,000. Today, scientists have declared the species to be “functionally extinct” since there has been no record of anyone seeing it for more than two decades.
Huge contributing factors that have led to the extinction of this tiger species is the widespread habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human development, as well as low prey density found in their natural habitat in South China.
Elephant tusks are relatively in high demand on the black market. The population of Sumatran elephants has dwindled down to 2,000 because of this market demand as well as other human-induced pressures including deforestation and dangerous human encounters, which often result in deaths of the species.
The Sumatran Elephant has experienced high rates of deforestation which caused local extinction in many areas of their Asian habitat. More than two-thirds of its natural forest has been razed over the past 25 years, and a significant percentage of its habitat has been destroyed.
Rapid deforestation causes dangerous human encounters. Elephants cross their homes and sometimes even hurt or kill people, this causing hunting, killing or poisoning of the species.
The Pegasus Foundation is working towards reducing the rate of extinction of these animals. Our organization provides grants and education to several countries across the globe including the U.S., Africa, and Asia. We also seek to spark constructive programs and projects through conferences, meetings, and other communication channels that might help other people learn more about these matters.