A List of 10 Famous Endangered Animals in Honor of Endangered Species Day

Extinction naturally occurs at a rate of one to five species per year. Scientists estimate that dozens of animal and plant species going extinct every DAY, disappearing between 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate. Over 40% of the world's species are at risk of extinction, primarily from human activities driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species and global warming.

1. Sumatran Orangutan

Found only on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. There are only nine existing populations of Sumatran orangutans and only seven have prospects of long-term viability, each with an estimated 250 or more individuals.

2. Sumatran Elephant
In 2011, the species was classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population has declined by at least 80% over the course of the last 75 years. They are threatened by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation and poaching. A lot of the elephants' natural forest cover is now too small to contain them.

3. Cross River and Mountains Gorilla
There is estimated to be only 200 to 300 of these gorillas left in the wild, scattered across the forests of Cameroon and Nigeria. They have suffered severe habitat loss because of poaching and deforestation to make way for agriculture.

The mountain gorilla, primarily found in various regions all across Africa namely Uganda, Rwanda, and Virunga, had a population of just 880. The population has declined due to traps, kidnapping, loss of habitat, interaction with tourists, poaching, being killed for meat and lack of food.

4. Javan and Black Rhinos
The Javan Rhino were once the most widespread of Asian rhinos, ranging from Java and Sumatra to India and China. Now there are only 35 Javan Rhinos left in Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia. The last Javan rhino in Vietnam was poached in 2010. 

There are only 4,880 Black Rhinos left in the wild. They were widely hunted during the 19th century, reducing their population to just 65,000. 

Both Rhinos are poached for their horns, mainly coveted to be used in Chinese Medicine.

5. Amur Leopard

The Amur Leopard is the world's rarest cat with its population having been reduced to around 57 in Russia and 12 in adjacent areas of China. Their decline is largely due to poaching and the exploitation of forests.

6. Hawksbill Sea Turtle

This turtle is found in the tropical reefs of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. They have a distinctively patterned shell that has made them susceptible to poaching for jewelery.

7. The Tiger

3 of the 9 subspecies of tigers have become extinct in the last 80 years. It has been predicted that all tigers may become extinct in the wild within the next decade. There are only 4 subspecies left in the wild- Bengal, Indochinese, Malayan, Siberian, South China, and Sumatran. Today, 4 of the remaining subspecies of tigers are considered endangered by the IUCN and 2 are considered “critically” endangered. The TOTAL number of all the 6 subspecies of tigers left is a combined 3,000 – 3,600. 

8. Mexican Wolf

There are now only 340 Mexican Wolves left. The decline was primarily due to the decreasing number of elks and deer, which they hunt for food.

9. Panda

Native to China, there are only about 1000 Giant Pandas left in the wild due to deforestation and loss of food.

10. Vaquita
The Vaquita is the world's rarest marine mammal. It was discovered in 1958 on the edge of extinction. In 2014, the estimated number dropped to around 100. Many are caught and drowned in gillnets used by illegal fishing operations in protected areas within Mexico's Gulf of California.
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