10 Animals That Will Go Extinct Before Your Children Grow Up
We live in a vast, complex world, where new species are being discovered all the time. Yet even as these exciting creatures are being discovered, the increasing human population, climate change, habitat destruction, hunting and the over-exploitation of wildlife mean countless numbers of animals are currently being pushed to the edge of extinction.
Scientists have estimated that over the course of Earth’s history, anywhere between 1 and 4 billion species have existed.
The natural extinction rate (aka background rate) describes how fast plants, mammals, birds and insects would die off if humans weren’t in the picture. It is estimated that today species are disappearing at almost 1,000 times the natural rate, meaning we’re losing around 150-200 species every single day.
Choosing animals that are likely to go extinct before your children have the opportunity to see them was a daunting task.
By only picking 10, we had to leave out countless other animals that are facing similar depressing circumstances. But millions of other species, many never known to science, are also likely to perish in the coming decades.
Status: Critically Endangered. The population of Sumatran Orangutans have declined more than 80 percent in the last 75 years.
2. Polar Bear
Staus: Vulnerable. Climate change, loss of habitat and oil development have contributed to their decline. Some experts estimate that polar bears will be extinct within 100 years.
3. Red Wolf
Status: Critically endangered. Thirty years ago, the last 17 remaining red wolves were placed in captivity to ensure their survival. Today, their numbers have increased to about 100, but still face threats from deforestation.
4. Siberian Tiger
Status: Critically endangered. Siberian tigers are the world’s largest cats. There are an estimated 400 to 500 living in the wild.
Status: Vulnerable. Sifakas are a genus of the lemur family. They are threatened by hunting, habitat loss and slash-and-burn activities. As of 2008, there were an estimated 250 mature individuals in existence.
Status: Critically endangered. It has been estimated that there are only 100 to 300 vaquitas, a family of porpoise, left in the world. They live in the stretch of water between Baja California and Mexico.
7. Western Gorilla
Status: Critically endangered. Extremely high levels of poaching and hunting have dwindled the population. By 2046, experts believe the Western Gorilla population will be reduced by more than 80 percent.
8. Black Rhino
Status:Critically endangered. Rhinos are one of the oldest groups of mammals, virtually living fossils. Unfortunately, there are only about 4,848 left on Earth.
9. Humpback Whale
Status: Endangered. As humpback whales continue to be a target for the whaling industry, their numbers face extermination. The current population is estimated to be around 18,000-20,000.
10. Leatherback Turtle
Status: Endangered. The greatest threat to leatherback sea turtles is from commercial fisheries and marine pollution. Currently, there are approximately 34,000 nesting females in the wild.