Throughout the world, various animal species risk extinction. The reasons for endangered animals include the loss of habitat, non-native species introduced into an area and over-hunting or harvesting. Each time a species dies off it impacts biodiversity. Consider that according to the World Wildlife Organization, a third of all amphibians face extinction along with one-fourth of all mammals, and almost 50 percent of freshwater turtles. In response to these staggering figures, governments nationally and Internationally have ratified laws like the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Such laws offer protections, making killing or capturing listed animals a criminal act.
Ivory poaching, territorial encroachment by humans, and hunting for meat accounts for the loss of hundreds of elephants in Asia. The African elephant experienced similar difficulties, being poached to near extinction by the 1980s. Environmentalists believe elephants improve overall forest composition by clearing out underbrush and moving seeds into different areas through digestion.
In the past, rhinos readily populated both Africa and Eurasia. In modern times, however, most rhinos live in park reserves or zoos. Two species of rhino come from Africa and three originate in Asia. Of these, the Sumatran and Javan rhino from Asia both appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list under "critically endangered." The northern white and several subspecies of black rhino in Africa also appear on this list.
Amur Leopards come from far-east Russia and Northern China. They thrive in cold environments. Russia began conservation strategies for this animal in 1998 by creating the Barsovy Wildlife Refuge and creating laws that deter leopard trafficking.
Humans share approximately 97 percent of our DNA with great apes. These magnificent creatures live primarily in Africa with a few, like orangutans, being native to Asia. All are on the endangered species list. Disease, poaching and gathering apes for pets caused much of the problem, leaving only around 7,500 wild apes.
Marine turtles, particularly leatherbacks and green turtles, face serious danger of extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) classifies three of the seven species of marine turtles as critically endangered because of predators, human encroachment on nesting grounds and fishing nets.
Dolphin and Whale
Nearly half of all great whale species remain endangered even with ongoing efforts to protect them. Between sea-faring ships, fishing lines and oil development, the whale and dolphin face ever-increasing environmental hazards including toxins and poaching.
In just 100 years about 95 percent of the wild tiger population has disappeared, and three species -- Javan, Caspian and Bali -- are extinct mostly due to illegal poaching and wildlife trade.
- collection of animals image by Alexander Potapov from Fotolia.com