Extinction is very near for some animal species. Being able to identify which species are closer to being lost forever gives us a chance to create or improve wildlife conservation and zoo biology.
That is why the Red List of Threatened Species was created. It categorizes species into groups regarding their risk of extinction - like vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered. Our team wants to share with you what is a critically endangered species and some examples of critically endangered species.
What is a critically endangered species?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature categorizes species that are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild as critically endangered. To determine whether a species falls into this category, researchers look at these four factors:
How are critically endangered species protected?
Critically endangered species are protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This act works to protect the conservation of threatened animals, plants and their habitats. It protects animals that are listed by the IUCN Red List as vulnerable or endangered.
Examples of critically endangered species
African forest elephants
There are two types of African elephants - the African forest elephant and the African bush elephant. One difference between the two is that the African bush elephant is listed as critically endangered. This kind of elephant lives in forests of Central Africa - more specifically Gabon and Congo.
African forest elephants have seen a 86 percent population decline in the last 30 years. The two main causes of elephant population declines are poaching and habitat loss. Many of these elephants are poached for their tusks and meat.
Plus, their habitats have been destroyed due to agricultural land takeover. Conservation efforts for African forest elephants have been tough because there is little research and no accurate way to count populations.
Cross River gorillas
Cross River gorillas are considered to be one of the most endangered gorillas of Africa. These gorillas are subspecies of the western gorillas that live in Cameroon and Nigeria. They were once thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in the highlands of Cameroon and Nigeria.
Poaching and habitat loss has caused populations of Cross River gorillas to decline. According to researchers, there are an estimated 300 Cross River gorillas left in the world. To prevent these animals from going extinct, wildlife organizations have teamed up to create a protected area for these gorillas.
The Sumatran tigers, also known as Sunda tigers, are the smallest kind of tigers. What makes them distinguishable is their bright orange coats and black stripes. They are categorized as critically endangered. In the wild, these tigers may be found in the forests on the island of Sumatra.
It is estimated that there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left. Their populations have declined due to habitat loss and wildlife trade. The Sumatran tigers are losing their homes due to the deforestation for paper products. This has led to these tigers having conflicts with humans.
Orangutans are distinguishable by their reddish coats. There are three types of orangutans - the Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli. They are only found in the rainforests of the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. An interesting fact about these apes is that they spend their entire lives in the trees.
Due to deforestation and illegal hunting, orangutans have been categorized as critically endangered. These animals are either hunted for their meat or out of fear. It is estimated that there are 50,000 to 65,000 orangutans left in the world.
How to support wildlife conservation and zoo biology
One of the best ways to support wildlife conservation is by supporting nonprofits like For Elephants. Our organization helps zoos and wild elephants get the opportunity to thrive and survive. You can donate to our research by joining the “Herd of Heroes.” Donate down below.