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If you ask me what would I do if I got an opportunity to go to the Moon or seek life on Mars, I would rather help save life on Earth rather than destroy life on Earth and seek life on Mars. Our planet Earth and our maternal home (talk of mother nature) is rich in diverse life forms, weather and a few harsh conditions. Nevertheless, throughout time our ancestors have coped with environmental conditions. So far 2019 has been the worst year ever, the wildfires in California, Amazon forest, Australia, climate change, poaching in Africa, things have been terrible for our ecosystem. Having the problem to deal with climate change, wildfires, poaching and food shortages some animals have been left vulnerable to almost extinct on the IUCN Red list. So let us take look at animals that are almost extinct today and some could be extinct tomorrow.

(Photo by Mark Murphy from Pixabay)

AMUR LEOPARD (Panthera pardus orientalis)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Being the rarest cat of its kind, the solitary Amur Leopard is native to Primorye region in Russia and the isolated reserves in the Northern region in China. It is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. The leopard being characterised by its thick fur, pale cream-coloured with thick unbroken rings and darkened centres, owing its thick fur to its well adaptation of the cold climate and snow. It is the closest relative of the African Leopard. Due to poaching being the biggest factor in the species’ survival being hunted for its skin, it’s population has declined significantly. Among other factors that have led to it’s declination are loss of habitat through wild fire and deforestation which have significantly increased it’s rate of extinction.

Fast fact: It’s the only leopard species that is able to live and hunt in the snow.


(Photo by SarahSiebert from Pixabay)

BLACK RHINO (Diceros bicornis)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Native to Eastern and Southern Africa. It is mostly found spending time in the semi-deserts savannahs and woodlands. Being a rhinoceros itself it is considered of great importance in Eastern and Southern Africa for it’s contribution in tourism and it’s even one of the Big Five animals of Kenya. Over the past few years it’s survival rate has fallen rapidly from hundreds of thousands to fewer than three thousand in the past decade due to poaching for it’s horns for the Asian market, since it is considered a great source of medicine throughout the Asian region, as it’s horns are used in Chinese traditional folk medicine to cure fevers, revive comatose patients, detoxification and aid male sexual stamina and fertility. Other factors that have contributed to it’s population decrease are deforestation in their native regions and civil disturbances such as wars caused by political instability.

Fast Fact: Black Rhinos have a “prehensile”, meaning hooked, lip for pulling leaves off branches.

(Photo by Linda Wong from Pexels)

BORNEAN ORANGUTAN (Pongo pygmaeus)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

They are the only great apes found in Asia, the name “orangutan” translates to “man of the forest” in the Malay language. According to Wikipedia, the Bornean orangutan is the third heaviest ape after the two species of the gorilla and chimpanzee, and the largest truly arboreal animal. While their habitats mostly include tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests the orangutans are native to the rain forests of Borneo Island. Deforestation and hunting for bushmeat trade has been the greatest threat to orangutans, having lost most of their natural habitat for palm oil plantations their population has significantly reduced. This species is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of mammals.

Fast Fact: Orangutans are the largest fruit-eating animals on Earth.

(Photo by  Dirk Meyer from Wikimedia Commons)

GIANT OTTER (Pteronura brasiliensis)

Conservation Status: Endangered

The Giant River Otter which is native to South America is the world’s largest otter found throughout the Amazon river basin where they build dens, campsites and latrines, while it’s an amphibious animal it is primary terrestrial. This amazing creature is especially noisy with a complex repertoire of vocalisations. It’s population has so far significantly decreased and is now discontinuous due to illegal poaching for fur trade. According to Wikipedia, more recently, habitat destruction and degradation have become the principal dangers, and a further reduction of 50% is expected in giant otter numbers within the 20 years after 2004.

Fast Fact: They can swim 9 miles per hour and pass a distance of 330 feet in 30 seconds.

(Photo by David Mark from Pixabay)

NORTHERN WHITE RHINO (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

It is a subspecies of the White Rhino native to East and Central Africa where it inhabits in grasslands and savanna woodlands. There are only two northern white rhinos left in the world, Najin and Fatu, both of which are females found Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, barring the existence of unknown or misclassified male Northern white rhino elsewhere in Africa, which makes the subspecies functionally extinct. Recently (late 2019), a team of scientists and conservationists harvested eggs from the two remaining females in Kenya and artificially inseminated them using frozen sperm from deceased males and created two viable Northern White rhino embryos with hopes to save the Northern white rhino from extinction. The Northern White Rhino has suffered majorly in poaching due to their horns used in Asian traditional medicine and to demonstrate social status, other factors include habitat loss due to agricultural settlements and lumbering.

Fast Fact: It is the third largest African animal and weighs between 1,700 and 2,400 kg.


(Photo by Piekfrosch from Wikimedia Commons)

PANGOLIN (Pholidota)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Owing its name to Malay, “penggulung” meaning roller, its mode of avoiding predators. They have large protective keratin scales covering their skin making them the only mammals covered in scales. It is native to Africa and Asia living in either hollow trees or burrows. This is the world’s most trafficked mammal traded for both its scales and meat. While there are eight species of pangolin equally divided amongst the two great continents, Asia and Africa, they are all threatened to extinction. While their threats are mainly poaching and deforestation of their natural habitats, their unique scales are used in traditional Chinese folk medicine and are believed to treat asthma, arthritis and rheumatism.

Fast Fact: It is the only mammal covered in scales.

(Photo by Silviculture from Wikimedia Commons)

SAOLA (Pseudoryx nghentinhensis)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

The Asian unicorn recognised by its two parallel horns with sharp ends is native to Vietnam in the Annamite Mountains and Laos. It looks like an antelope but it is closely related to the bovine family. The name “Saola” means “Spindle horns” in Tai language of Vietnam. They mostly inhabit wet evergreen or deciduous forests in Eastern Indochima, preferring rivers and valleys. Their population is unknown according to World Wildlife Fund – WWF, the current population is thought to be a few hundred at a maximum and possibly only a few dozen at a minimum. Their population declination is mainly affected by hunting by the local villagers and habitat loss as forests disappear in the name of agriculture and plantations and establishing of large-scale infrastructure throughout their natural habitat.

Fast Fact: Their horns can grow up to 50cm long.

(Photo by MarcusObal from Wikimedia Commons)

SCIMITAR ORYX (Oryx dammah)

Conservation Status: Extinct in the Wild

Also known as the sahara oryx, it was once native and widespread in the Northern Africa region but some decades later it roams the grasslands of Chad. The species has faced a major decline in late 1900s and went extinct in the wild in 2000, later in 2016 a small herd was successfully reintroduced in Chad where it mostly lives in grassy steppes and semi-deserts. It is also bred in captivity in special reserves in Senegal, Tunisia and Morocco. Human activity has been the greatest threat on this species through hunting for their horns and hides by natives.

Fast Fact: They can survive without water for long periods of time as they get water from water-rich plants.

(Photo by Leodras from Wikimedia Commons)

SUMATRAN ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus sumatrensis)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Finally our list “almost extinct animals” is incomplete without an elephant due to their most poached ivory. Sumatran elephants, although much small than their counterparts in Africa are without doubt the amazing giants of Asia. This species is native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, it’s habitat is mostly broadleaf moist forests. These Sumatran giants contribute significantly to the forest ecosystem, by carrying and depositing a variety of seeds wherever they go, hence generating biodiversity. Their threats are mainly poaching for their ivories with only male Asian elephants having tusks, habitat loss has also been a major factor due to the conversion of their natural habitats into agricultural areas and plantations.

Fast Fact: Adult elephants can drink from 80-200 litres of water everyday.


(Photo by 26Isabella from Wikimedia Commons)

SUMATRAN RHINOCEROS (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Also known as the hairy rhinoceros, this is the only Asian rhino species with two horns. It is the smallest rhinoceros, although it is still a large animal native to South Asia. They mostly inhabit in both lowland and highland secondary rainforests, swamps and cloud forests. It is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List with only five substantial population in the wild where four are in Sumatra and one in Borneo. While illegal poaching has been the key factor their in declination, their population has also significantly deteriorated due to the fact that most rhinoceros in Asia suffer habitat loss and fragmentation hence their low population has led to low breeding.

Fast Fact: It is the most vocal rhino species.

(Photo by Paula Olson from Wikimedia Commons)

VAQUITA (Phocoena sinus)

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

This is a porpoise species native to the gulf of California that is almost extinct. The word “Vaquita” is Spanish for “Little cow”. It has taken the title of the most endangered cetacean in the world. And has been listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. As of 1997 it’s population was estimated at 600, below 100 in 2014, approximately 60 in 2015, around 30 in November 2016 and only 12-15 in March 2018 and that leads us to a conclusion that it is almost extinct. Its population decline is highly attributed to bycatch from the illegal gillnet fishing targeting the Totoaba another endangered fish of the drum family. Breeding depression, habitat alterations and pollutants have also been the greatest factors in their depopulation.

Fast Fact: They are the only species belonging to the porpoise family that live in warm waters.

(Photo by Zoosnow from Pixabay)

WHITE-RUMPED VULTURE (Gyps bengalensis)

Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Native to Southeast Asia, the typical medium-sized vulture with an unfeathered head and neck with very broad wings is a close relative of the European Griffon Vulture. Like all it’s scavenger family it mainly feeds on carcasses of dead animals. Their population has declined significantly in India due to poisoning by diclofenac, which is used as a veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) tracing in cattle carcasses when fed by the birds which leads to kidney failure making it’s way into the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. More over the hunting of the birds for food has been attributed to the Bandola (Banda people).

Fast Fact: Vulture’s ears cannot be seen because they are covered by a fine skin to stop food from getting in while the bird is eating.


At the end of the day it is us humans who can stop this extinction of our precious animals, there are a few things you can do to stop this extinction, let us conserve our forests and environment, animals are not humans to live in man-made enclosed settings, there is a bigger difference in living in the wild and living in zoos, some animals find it hard to increase in population due to being captive. Not all animals survive long enough in captivity. And take a stand against poaching!

About Post Author

Silvaro D'Silvas

An adventurer on pursuit for knowledge and to share it with the World.
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Mary McAteer
Mary McAteer
1 year ago

Great read! Thank you for the info.

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