In a normal process of evolution, lots of organisms have evolved and thrived in varied habitats. While many continue to live and reproduce till date, some have already become extinct.
There are also a number of animal species, whose population has reduced to such an extent that they are on the verge of becoming nonextant in the near future. They are grouped under endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Top 10 Endangered Species in the World
According to the IUCN data, the number of endangered species accounts to 40 percent of the total species of organisms that are identified till 2006. This is a huge carving out of the list of all endangered species, considering the fact that there are about 3 - 30 million species on our planet. The endangered organisms include species of plants, insects, birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals. Listed below are the top ten endangered species according to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF):
The beluga, also known as the great sturgeon or European sturgeon, is the biggest sturgeon species having a slightly upturned mouth. An ancient fish, it is also recorded as the biggest freshwater European fish (about 5 m in length). The body is elongated in shape and grayish green in color. The beluga is highly valued as a good caviar, which is indirectly responsible for the decrease in its number.
Characterized by a tapering head that resembles a hawks beak and inhabiting the tropical reefs, the hawksbill turtle is one of the most endangered species. Identifying features include a colorful carapace and strong claws present in each of the flippers. The population of the hawksbill turtle has been on the decline because of its slow reproduction rate as well as due to the human activities such as the use of eggs for human consumption and killing the turtles for their flesh and shells.
Alligator Snapping Turtle
Identified as the biggest freshwater turtle in North America, the alligator snapping turtle looks like an ancient turtle species because of its appearance. You can identify it from its beak-like jaws, huge head, spiked shell, rough carapace, and a thick fleshy tail. Factors responsible for the decreasing number of alligator snapping turtles are hunting for captivation, shell, and meat.
Do you know, the mako shark is the fastest swimming shark and can cover a distance of 60 miles per hour. It thrives well in both, cold and warm waters, as well as in shallow and deep waters. Even though a mako shark does not eat humans, it shows aggressive behavior, especially when threatened. Captivating the mako shark for sport is the main cause for its declining population.
Even though the tiger occupies the top position in the trophic levels, it is listed in the top ten endangered species of animals. The main reason for their decreased population is poaching for their skin, bone, nails, and other body parts. As per animal conservation data, there are approximately 3,200 tigers in their natural habitat today.
Native to some parts of China, and a member of the bear family, the giant panda is included in this list. It can be identified from its distinctive black patches around the eyes, ears, and other body parts. Possible threats to the giant panda bears are habitat reduction due to developmental projects and hunting for flesh. It is estimated that less than 2,000 giant pandas survive in the wild.
The black rhino is another endangered animal included in the top ten list. Generally speaking, almost all the species of rhinoceros are at a risk of extinction. It is characterized by two distinctive horns, and a long, pointed prehensile upper lip. The reason for the declining numbers of this huge animal is hunting for its horns.
The green-cheeked parrot is indigenous to Brazil and Mexico. Distinctive features of this endangered bird are its dark-colored head, the green body with a gray breast, and a dark maroon tail. Similar to some parrot species, it has the unique ability to mimic human voices. Because of this, its demand is very high in the pet market, leading to reduction in number.
Also known by the name yellow root, goldenseal, a herb, is widely used as a natural remedy for several ailments, ranging from allergic skin conditions to painful hemorrhoids. Due to its therapeutic benefits, the demand for this plant has increased to more than 30 percent in the last few decades. No wonder then that this yellow root herb is a member of the endangered plants list.
Big Leaf Mahogany
The big leaf mahogany is one of the timbers that is in demand in the world. The import for this hard wood is found to be the highest in the United States. At maturity (requiring 100 years), it grows to a height of about 150 feet. The main reasons for its endangered status are slow growth and over exploitation for its valuable timber.
Top 10 Endangered Species in Africa and India
The environmental conditions of a habitat may change significantly, which makes the survival of an organism very challenging. And if the number of predators in the habitat is high, it further reduces the possibility of survival for the species. Thus, one of the endangered species facts is that it may be threatened in a particular region, while it may not in another habitat. Being identified as the most biologically diverse areas of the world, endangered species in Africa and India are listed below.
- Ethiopian wolf
- African elephant
- Mountain gorilla
- African wild dog
- Pygmy hippopotamus
- Black rhinoceros
- African penguin
- Africa lion
- Indian vulture
- Himalayan wolf
- Ganges shark
- Pygmy hog
- Jenkin's shrew
- Sumatran rhinoceros
- Salim Ali's fruit bat
- Namdapha flying squirrel
- Malabar large-spotted civet
So, this was an overview regarding the top 10 endangered species. It is an undoubted fact that the loss of habitat and increased predation are the two prime reasons for endangering a particular species. To be more precise, human intervention in terms of land encroachment, hunting, and excessive exploitation are responsible for the declining population of most of the species.