To properly practice environmental sustainability, we must be considerate toward all aspects of the world around us, and this entails the conservation of endangered animal species. This is a part of sustainability that mankind has sadly overlooked in the past, resulting in the extinction of rare and fascinating creatures ranging from the passenger pigeon to the tasmanian tiger.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) currently lists a variety of animals in its threatened, vulnerable, and endangered species directory, and unfortunately, many of them have reached “critically endangered” status, indicating that they sit on the threshold of extinction. To learn from our past mistakes, and to remain consistent in our stewardship, we must showcase these animals as priorities in our overall sustainable agenda.
Last time, we explored the javan rhinoceros, mountain gorilla, and vaquita. Here now is a closer look at several more of the world’s most endangered species.
You may not immediately recognize the saola at first mention, and there is a good reason for that: the elusive antelope-like creature is one of the world’s rarest large mammals. In fact, a living specimen was only photographed in the wild for the first time in 1999.
Naturally, the saola’s reclusive reputation is a product of low species numbers stemming, primarily, from habitat loss. The species has restrictive habitat requirements, and paired with its aversion to human development, this characteristic has put it at high risk for extinction. To make matters worse, the species’s rareness has led to a lack of conservation data. Fortunately, initiatives like the Saola Working Group have formed in an effort to protect the saola and its diminishing habitat.
Like the vaquita, the finless porpoise is a small marine mammal sitting on the edge of extinction. The species is defined by its namesake lack of a dorsal fin, and though they are less acrobatic than many of their relatives, they are believed to be very active, albeit elusive swimmers. This modest presence has contributed to the species’s critically endangered status, as many specimens have been accidentally captured in fishing nets. However, the porpoise’s main threat is environmental degradation, though it has been considered a protected species in all Japanese coastal waters since the 1930s.
Recently, conservation groups in Korea have started to campaign for additional porpoise outreach.
Elephants are arguably some of the world’s most fascinating animals, and the Sumatran elephant is no different. The large mammal is one of three recognized subspecies of the Asian elephant, and it is also identified as one of the most threatened elephant species in the world. Environmental degradation, habitat loss, and fragmentation has led to the loss of over 69 percent of potential elephant habitat, and a long history of poaching has only exacerbated this crisis.
To help combat these threats, Indonesian law has classified the Sumatran elephant as a protected species, and a variety of conservation groups have been established to advocate for species growth. Specifically, the Tesso Nilo National Park was established in 2004 to provide and protect viable elephant habitat.