Planet Earth is home to the weird and wonderful, an endless array of creatures so strange they could be mistaken for fantastical beasts from J.K. Rowling’s imagination. There’s a problem, though; thousands of the wacky animals that call this planet home are endangered and could disappear forever, many without humans even noticing.
The World’s Most Endangered Species That You’ve Never Even Heard Of
By Yazmine Alexandra
Funds are rightly donated to save the Sumatran Orangutan’s habitat, t-shirts and badges proudly donned to support the Giant Panda, and Bengal Tigers adopted by wildlife-loving families, but every endangered species deserves the attention required to save their kind. Folks, it’s time to support the underdogs! (Disclaimer: none of the animals features on this list are a fuzzy dog variation)
The Olm may look a little like its cousin the axolotl but this guy is a whole lot stranger. What could be stranger than a foetus-like salamander, you ask? Firstly, the olm is born with the sense of sight but due to its dark habitat of subterranean caves, its eyes fail to develop and adult olms are completely blind. Secondly, it lives to about 100. Thirdly, it can go up to ten years without eating. Convinced now?
Show and Tell, a standard practice in primary schools worldwide, is a breeding ground for unspoken pet competition. There’s the kid who brings in the yabbies, the girl who has three hermit crabs in painted shells, the boy with a sapphire coloured Siamese Fighting Fish.
Terrible news for these kids; the youth of Italy, Croatia and Herzegovina win. While a childhood fascination with the blind, probably hungry, olm is understandable, capturing these creatures for domestication must be stopped as the trend for pet olms depletes their already dwindling numbers in the wild. Its waters have also ben polluted by factory waste and agricultural chemicals, landing the olm a spot on the endangered species list.
How you can help: The Tular Cave Laboratory is currently attempting to breed the olm in an attempt to replenish their numbers. Keep your ear to the ground on this one!
2. Hooded Seal
Did you ever have a childhood obsession with balloons? A burning desire to carry one around with you simply everywhere? The Hooded Seal shares your love for sacks of air. When competing for the attention of females, males of the species will inflate a balloon from both their skull and nose, the latter being an oh so intimidating shade of hot pink.
Found in North Atlantic waters, the Hooded Seal have become endangered due to a mix of natural and human influences. Their predators in the wildlife include polar bears, Greenland sharks, and killer sharks – guys not likely to be scared off by a nose balloon! Historically hunted by Greenland, Canada, the Soviet Union and Norway, the Hooded Seal was protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972 though is still illegally hunted today. Habitat destruction also threatens this oddball; global warming melts their precious ice and overfishing forces them to migrate further south.
How you can help: Conserve energy. It’s that simple! Turning off your lights, grabbing an extra blanket instead of flicking on the heater, and washing your clothes in cold water are just a few very easy ways to save the Arctic and the Hooded Seal.
Known as the ‘Woolly Spider Monkey’, the chilled out Muriqui spends its time swinging through the forests of Brazil and sipping water from leaves. Where do we sign up? The Muriqui is also an unusually peaceful creature; they live in troops of between five and 25 members with males allowing the females to choose a mate without a whiff of competition in the air.
Natural predators like jaguars, eagles and snakes have depleted Muriqui numbers but human hunting and habitat destruction are also responsible for earning this tranquil monkey the ‘Endangered’ classification.
How you can help: Read our article about the amazing work undertaken by grassroots organisations to protect endangered species.
The vaquita is not only the world’s smallest porpoise in size but is the world’s most endangered marine mammal. Living in the Northern Gulf of California in Mexico, the ‘little cow’ (the vaquita’s Spanish name) deserves far more attention given its high scoring level of cute.
Sadly, only about 60 vaquitas survive today. Their meagre numbers are primarily due to fishing as they frequently drown in gillnets. Despite fishing being one of the region’s primary sources of income, the Mexican government suspended the use of gillnets in 2015 in an attempt to save the vaquita. Unfortunately, the effort has been unsuccessful. Vaquita deaths are a grim by-product of fishing techniques used to catch the totoaba fish, highly demanded in China for their swim bladders which are considered a delicacy.
How you can help: Refusing to buy fish or shrimp caught with gillnets is a small act that can help save the vaquita. The organisation VIVAvaquita is your number one source for all vaquita saving efforts with volunteering information and petitions just some of the wildlife warrior acts detailed on vivavaquita.org.
5. Red Crested Tree Rat
Handy hint: Never play a game of hide-and-seek with a Red Crested Tree Rat. This crimson maned creature is so good at evading human eyes it was actually considered extinct until 2015 as the last time a specimen had been sighted was 1988. Finally, another little guy reared its head in Columbia bringing the grand total of sighted Red Crested Tree Rats to three.
Surprise, surprise: humans have contributed heavily to the demise of the Red Crested Tree Rat. Urban development and coffee cultivation are the main culprits as they threaten the animal’s habitat.
How you can help: Keep your eyes peeled and maybe you’ll spot lucky Red Crested Tree Rat number four!
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