In the wildlife community, you have probably heard a lot of terms thrown around. For example, “endangered” and “vulnerable.” People tend to confuse these terms and believe that they all mean the same thing. However, each has its own meaning.
Here is what “endangered” means, how these species are protected and what elephants are endangered.
What does endangered mean?
The International Union of Conservation of Nature studies animals, plants and fungi to see if there is a risk of becoming extinct. This organization created The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species that identifies which species need to be protected.
This list categorizes threatened animals into different categories ranking their risk of extinction. A species that is listed as “endangered” has a high risk of becoming extinct. Species become endangered when they face habitat loss and genetic variation.
Endangered Species Act
In the United States, there is an Endangered Species Act. Congress passed this act in 1973. The Endangered Species Act was created to protect and recover species and ecosystems that depend on them. Under this act, endangered and threatened species are protected.
Species that are listed as endangered
Lots of people ask us what elephants are endangered? The answer is Asian elephants. These elephants are at a greater danger of being lost forever than their cousins - the African elephants. These kinds of elephants are listed as endangered because of their declining numbers. Currently, there is an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 left in the wild.
Asian elephants are decreasing due to habitat loss, human and wildlife conflict and some poaching. Farmers are encroaching into Asian elephant habitats. This causes human and wildlife conflicts that put both humans and elephants at risk of being killed.
Blue whales are the largest animals on the planet, and they live in the ocean. One blue whale can weigh as much as 33 elephants around 200 tons and is 80 to 100 feet in length. There are an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 blue whales left in the world.
In the 1800s and early 1900s, commercial whaling almost put blue whales on the brink of extinction. Blue whales were hunted down for their body parts that were used for fashion, oil and meat. These whales are currently being protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Tigers are Asia’s largest cats that live in forests, grassland and Savannas. These big cats are currently listed as endangered. There are an estimated 3,900 tigers left in the wild. Populations of these cats are declining due to poaching, habitat loss and retaliatory killings.
A tiger's most immediate threat is poaching. Tigers are poached for their pelts and body parts that are used in traditional medicines. Tigers are being protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Nearly all of the sea turtle species are listed as endangered. Three of their species are listed as critically endangered. There are an estimated 6.5 million sea turtles left in the world. Sea turtle populations are declining due to slaughterings.
Sea turtles are being killed for eggs, meat, skin, shells. Also, they face habitat destruction and can get accidentally caught by a fishers’ nets. The sea turtles in the United States are protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Learn more about wildlife conservation
One of the first steps for wildlife conservation is educating yourself and others. At For Elephants, we give presentations regarding the importance of wildlife conservation and elephants. Contact us for formal and informal presentations.