Facts About Endangered Species

When you hear the syntagm “endangered species,” you may often wonder how some populations are in such great danger of vanishing. Certainly, we, humans play the most significant role in crushing the chances of long-term survival of currently threatened species creatures like the saola, the Amur leopard, or the Philippine eagle. If we think of the Philippine eagle, species that is both endangered and the national bird of the Republic of the Philippines, we should note that the United States provides an excellent example of appropriate recognition of its own national bird’s problems and a rousing solution to the situation. The resurgence of the bald eagle stands as a global source of hope for endangered species.

Causes Of Species Endangerment:

⦁    Loss of habitat due to human incursion, human development, and building infrastructure;

⦁    Loss of food source because of global warming and sudden environmental changes;

⦁    Black market in traditional medicine species that still supports illegal wildlife trade and poaching;

⦁    Pet trade uncurbed with high mortality rate in transport;

⦁    Use as food and trophies in development countries that consider this as something that shows their high status;

⦁    Collateral trapped species, i.e. dolphins snared by gill nets meant for tuna;

⦁    Non-native species turned feral preying on native species, i.e. cats eating rare birds;

⦁    Diseases due to improper living conditions, temperature change, and reduced food sources;

⦁    Fashion targets, i.e. leopard skin coats that is used for the highly developed clothing market;

⦁    Fragmentation of habitat resulting in isolated populations unable to breed with enough diversity to prevent inbreeding and disease;


The Mysterious Saola

Let’s move from the general to the specific in the case of the critically endangered saola, whose population is now estimated to mere tens of individuals. This beautiful animal that resembles an antelope is one of the greatest recent zoological finds by western science. The saola’s discovery on the Laos-Vietnam bordering Annamite Mountains in May 1992 and swift recognition as a unique species mean that conservation efforts are still in their infancy, unlike for animals like the American bison.

The saola’s gentle nature provides ample opportunity for hunting for use as protein by native people.  The area’s isolation prohibits the close monitoring of the species’ welfare, even though Vietnam enacted legislation to protect the animals and their environment. For instance, the Bu Huong nature reserve has banned logging.

The saola is particularly susceptible to the collateral trapped species detail in becoming endangered. Conservation groups removed 26,651 snares intended for wild boar and muntjac that caught the saola instead. When this factor is added to the fragmentation of the remote Annamite habitat of the species, you can see how this creature needs human intervention to preserve its life. It has never been studied in the wild.

Chilka, a four months Amur Leopard, walks around its enclosure at the 'Parc de la Tete d'Or' park in Lyon, on December 27, 2013. The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), a very rare species of leopard living on the borders of Russia and China, is the winner of the 2013 WWF award dedicated to the positive evolution of an endangered species, as its population has increased by "over 50% over the last five years", according to the Switzerland-based conservation organisation. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)

The Elusive Amur Leopard

Fewer than 60 of the endangered Amur leopard are believed to survive in the wilds of the China-Russia border. These animals are the only cats that adapted to a snowy climate and their extra long legs enable them to travel without hindrance as they pursue their primary prey of deer.

Trophy hunting and fashion are prime reasons for these creatures becoming endangered because of their rarity. Competition between humans and animals is fiercest when the livelihood of people comes at a risk. Traditional Chinese medicine contains cat in its pharmacy and the use of its skin and bones troubles international wildlife groups.

Foremost on the list for the most dramatic and immediate danger to the Amur leopard are fires, which are started by humans either accidentally or deliberately to clear land for farming or to destroy insect pests. These lights drive wild deer to habitats less well suited for them and thus drive the leopards themselves to poorer habitats to follow their food source.

A further troubling condition from the above list is inbreeding that leads to smaller gene pools in genetic isolation. The diseases common to inbreeding include heart disease and sexual difficulties. People who are concerned with our planet’s wealth of wildlife may well see the last of the Amur leopard if action is not taken soon.

This photo taken on February 17, 2016 shows a Philippine eagle named "Mindanao" streching wings at the Philiippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) center in Davao City, in southern island of Mindanao. Tropical rainforest destruction and relentless hunting have decimated the population of the majestic bird -- one of the world's biggest and most powerful -- with just hundreds believed to be left in the wild. / AFP / TED ALJIBE / TO GO WITH AFP STORY: Philippines-environment-animal-eagle, FEATURE by Karl Malakunas (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Proud Philippine Eagle

Mindanao contains the largest number of these majestic birds, which are the longest-bodied extant species of eagle. Since each survival requires parents who in turn require a large acreage of forest to hunt in, deforestation poses severe problems for the health of the species. The Philippines contain biodiversity among animals as well as a burgeoning human population, and the battle continues to give each segment growing room. Population estimates range from only about 160 to 600 eagles flying wild and free in their environment.

Since it is the national symbol with its image on stamps and coins, the Philippine government extends hefty fines to those injuring or killing the eagles. In the absence of stringent enforcement, however, eagles continue to be shot and occasionally used as food by humans. Captive breeding that began in 1992 is hope for the species; another hope is that international attention given by environmental and birdwatching groups stems poaching and other illegal activities with the majestic birds. At the moment, organizations need your support to continue such work.

The Time For Action Is Now

You have read information of three endangered animals. There are more on the list that deserves your help. There is an old farmers’ saying, “Always feed your animals before yourselves,” because from animals comes the livelihood of humans. If you extend this simple rule, you will see that animals contribute usefulness as well as beauty to our lives.

The most threatened species are critically listed, and the others are not far behind. By using your available resources, you will enable the planet’s most precious species to continue providing enjoyment of nature. Take a moment now to think about how you can help. You’ll find it the easiest decision in a long time to donate in defense of the endangered creatures who share our planet.