Meet Ten Of The Most Endangered Species In The World

The past century has not been kind to the natural environment. As the human population has continued to boom, our voracious craving for resources and land has find the natural environment pushed further and further back.

Unfortunately, this trend seems to show no signs of stopping as in the last forty years alone it is estimated the planet has lost over half of its wildlife. This has led many to conclude that humans have ushered in the sixth mass extinction, as species continue to disappear at a rate thought to be between 100 and 1, 000 times greater than the natural background rate.

From bugs and fish to mammals and birds , no species , no matter how remote, seem to be able to escape these downward tendencies. The classification of whether or not a species is imperiled is not a precise science, but one based on a variety of factors including the number of individuals left, the rate of decline, menaces they are facing, and how fragmented their populations are.

Bearing all that in mind, meet some of the world’s most endangered animals, and let’s hope this won’t be the last we assure of them.

Spix’s macaw ( Cyanopsitta spixii )

In 2000 it was thought that this beautiful blue-grey parrot- built famous by the animated film Rio- only survived in private collects. It is currently thought that there are around 110 of the birds held in captivity, all of which are descended from simply seven chicks taken from merely two nests. Hopes were raised, however, when one individual was potted in the wild in Brazil in 2016.

Javan rhino ( Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus )

A Javan rhino pictured in London Zoo in around 1885. T.Dixon/ The Zoological Society of London/ Wikimedia Commons

Once observed ranging across Southeast Asia, from Bangladesh to East Java, the species has been reduced to just a single population of perhaps 50 living in Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Java, Indonesia. Though once found in zoos, there are now none left in captivity, stimulating the poor Javan rhino perhaps the rarest big mammal in the world.

Vaquita ( Phocoena sinus )

The endeavor made last year to create a small captive breed population was abandoned. VaquitaCPR

The smallest, but also the most endangered, cetacean is not faring well. It is thought that only around 30 of these tiny porpoises survive in the Gulf of California, pushed to the brink of extinction as bycatch for poachers targeting the totoaba fish. Endeavors to capture and save the few remaining porpoises were abandoned last year.

Wood’s cycad ( Encephalartos woodii )

One of the original stems taken from the wild, and still growing in Durban. Purves, M ./ Wikimedia Commons

In 1895 a single cluster of an unknown cycad was discovered growing in South Africa, all of which was recovered and brought into captivity. Since then, a second plant has never been observed, meaning that not only is it extinct in the wild and that all examples of this plant in botanical collectings are clones of this original individual, but all of them are male.

New Caledonian owlet-nightjar ( Aegotheles savesi )

The bird has not been seen in two decades, and are most likely be extinct already. The Ibis/ Wikimedia Commons

Not seen in the wild since 1998, this bird is merely known from two collected specimen. Only found on the island of New Caledonia, it is unusual among the owlet-nightjars for being bigger and having longer legs, hinting at a more terrestrial lifestyle. The best estimate to date suggests that there are probably no more than 50 of the birds surviving.

Devils Hole pupfish ( Cyprinodon diabolis )

The entire population lives in a single pond in the middle of the desert. Olin Feuerbacher/ USFWS

In a single pool may be in the hottest place on Earth lives one of the world’s rarest fish. Limited to Devils Hole in Death Valley in the US, the entire wild population of pupfish exists in a collapsed cavern filled with water that measures merely 22 meters( 72 feet) long and 3.5 meters( 11.5 feet) broad. The number of fish surviving in the pond thought to be around 115 at last count, although there is now a captive population as a backup.

Lord Howe Island stick insect ( Dryococelus australis )

The captive population has been bred from only a few dozen collected from the wild. Peter Halasz/ Wikimedia Commons

Often considered one of the rarest insects in the world, the tree lobster once flourished on the remote Lorde Howe Island, until it was likely driven to extinction there due to the introduction of rats. Some 80 year later, and a tiny population of the massive stick insects was rediscovered on a sheer glob of stone jutting from the ocean. Since then, Melbourne zoo has managed to captive breed thousands more, and be available to reintroduce them back to the main island.

Black softshell turtle ( Nilssonia nigricans )

For a long time, it was thought the species only existed in the pond of a temple. Mar1 1/ Wikimedia Commons

Long thought to be inbred individuals from other species of softshell turtles, genetics ultimately revealed that the turtles found in the manmade ponds at the Bayazid Bastami shrine in Chittagong, Bangladesh, were actually their own species and existed solely within the temple pond. In recent years, two tiny wild populations have been received, while another temple in Assam might be supporting the species, too.

Barbary lion ( Panthera leo leo )

A captive lion in the Czech Republic that some think is actually a Barbary lion. Irbis7 5/ Wikimedia Commons

While it is generally accepted by most that the Barbary lion ran extinct sometime in the 1960 s, others reckon that lions descended from those kept by the Sultan of Morocco could be keeping the North African subspecies alive. It is thought that merely a handful of these lions survive in captivity, but there are questions about different degrees of hybridization that has resulted and the authenticity of their heritage.

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