The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lists more than 1,300 plants and animals as being endangered, and other organizations’ lists are much larger. Which are the most vital animals and insects that will be extinct soon? It depends on who you ask. These are a few that are at serious risk of extinction.
A single Rabb’s Fringe-Limbed Treefrog can be found in Panama. There are some of these frogs in captivity, but they have not yet bred. A fungal disease over the past decade wiped out these frogs.
This Ivory-Billed Woodpecker may already be extinct, but is certainly near-extinct if any remain. These large woodpeckers are found in the southeastern United States and Cuba.
Only about 400 Ploughshare Tortoises remain in Madagascar. A combination of fragmented habitat and poaching seriously threaten these tortoises.
The deer-like hirola Damaliscus hunteri can be found along the Kenya-Somalia border. There are only about 600 of these animals remaining since the population has been devastated by disease, drought, predators, and loss of habitat.
As few as 40 Javan Rhinoceroses may remain alive in the western tip of the Island of Java in Indonesia. The remaining animals are in the Ujung Kulon National Park, but are poached for their horn.
The Baiji Lipotes vexillifer were found in the China’s Yangtze River, but have been declared extinct. An unconfirmed sighting since then has raised hope that these dolphins are not completely extinct – yet. Pollution and dams are responsible for the loss of habitat for these dolphins.
Cat Ba langurs can still be found on Cat Ba Island in Vietnam, though only a few dozen remain. Hunting has threatened these langurs with extinction.
Insects are facing extinction in even greater numbers than animals. Tens of thousands of insects are believed to have become extinct already, though only 70 have been documented. Hundreds of thousands more insect species could be lost in coming decades.
Habitat loss is responsible for many insect extinctions. Insects are often thought of only as annoying, creepy-crawly pests, but they also play an important role in nature. Insects contribute to pollination, decomposition, and other vital biological processes.
Endangered insects include the giant flightless darkling beetle that lives in the Seychelles, the Barberry Carpet Moth in England, the Tahoe stonefly in the United States, and the Illidge’s ant-blue butterfly in Australia.
There are some success stories of humans working to bring a species back from the brink of extinction in recent decades. Following the passage of the Endangered Species act the bald eagle recovered from only about 500 in the continental US to more than 7,000 breeding pairs today.
The third Friday of May each year is designated as Endangered Species Day. This is a day that is frequently celebrated with awareness events and volunteer opportunities to benefit wildlife.
Do you participate in Endangered Species Day? Which endangered animals and insects concern you the most?