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Species we are on the brink of losing in 2019


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According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the planet is currently in “the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals.” Yet, unlike past mass extinctions that were caused by natural events such as huge volcanic eruptions, asteroid strikes, and climate shifts, the current wave is almost entirely a man-made disaster.

With this scary reality in mind, here are a selection - and by no means all - of the species in peril as we enter 2019.

Northern White Rhino

In March, the world’s last male Northern White Rhino, Sudan, passed away in Kenya. According to Save the Rhino, the 'sub-species' is now 'functionally extinct'. 

Northern White Rhinocerous

Image Credit: Flickr- Artisit Unknown

Only Sudan’s daughter and granddaughter remain, living under the protection of armed guards away from poachers. Scientists were able to collect genetic material from Sudan, which could be used in future IVF. Nevertheless, the future of this rhinoceros species is uncertain.


The vaquita is the world’s rarest mammal – the WWF  (World Wildlife Fund) believes that there are fewer than 30 left in our oceans. This is a decline of over 92% in the last 22 years.

Image Credit: Skeeze on Pixabay

The porpoise species is only found in the northern Gulf of California and fishing nets have been the main cause of its decline. Climate change has also played a role, through altering habitat conditions and food chains.

Amur Leopard

Amur Leopard

 Image Credit: 3342 on Pixabay

Approximately 84 Amur leopards remain in Russia's 'Land of the Leopard' National Park, making it one of the most endangered big cats on the planet.

Poaching, deforestation, forest fire and new road constructions are just some of the factors threatening this subspecies.

Sumatran and Javan Rhinos

It isn’t only the northern white rhino we should be concerned about. According to Sumatran Rhino Rescue, there are only around 80 Sumatran rhinos remaining in Borneo and Sumatra. This is due to rhino horn poaching, deforestation, and the introduction of invasive species. According to WWF, this rhino 'once roamed as far away as the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in Bhutan and eastern India, through Myanmar, Thailand, possibly to Vietnam and China, and south through the Malay Peninsula'. However, the rhinos have now become extinct in these places. 

Ratu and Andatu, Day 4. Photo by S. Ellis

 Image Credit: S.Ellis and the International Rhino Foundation on Wikimedia Commons

In addition, there are only around 70 Javan rhinos remaining in Indonesia, all of which reside in one national park, meaning that their long-term survival is uncertain, due to lack of genetic diversity. This national park is also vulnerable to the damage of potential tsunamis, as well as rising sea levels, putting the species at even further risk.


Did you know that unicorns exist in Asia?

The first saola ever captured eats leaves in a cage outside Hanoi in 1994.

Image Credit: The Nation from Reuters/ Claro Cortes IV

The Soala, otherwise known as the “Asian unicorn”, is an antelope-like creature, native to the Vietnamese and Laotion mountains, that has only been documented a handful of times in the wild. It wasn’t discovered until 1992.

Its nickname derives from its rarity, and not because it has only one horn – it actually has two. They have been classified by WWF as 'critically endangered'.

Sunda and Chinese Pangolin

Chinese Pangolin

Image Credit: Ms. Sarita Jnawali of NTNC on Wikimedia Commons

These two subspecies of pangolin are the two types of pangolin listed as "critically endangered" on the IUCN Red List.

Hunted for its scales, which are deemed medically beneficial in Asia, its high-end meat and its blood, which is considered a “healing tonic”, it is the most trafficked animal in the world, despite most people never having heard of it!

ASAP! (Asian Species Action Partnership) have begun a new national strategy to help save this beautiful animal.

The Hawksbill Turtle

Over the last century, the Hawksbill turtle population has dropped by up to 80% and they are now critically endangered.

Hawksbill Turtle

Image Credit: Skeeze on Pixabay

Despite being protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, humans continue to be their biggest predator - the turtles are still illegally hunted for their shells and their meat.

Giant Ibis

This enormous Ibis is Cambodia’s national bird which “holds near-mythical status for bird-watchers, naturalists and conservationists” due to its rarity – less than 300 remain in Northern Cambodia.

It has been listed as “critically endangered”, owing to the high probability of its continuing decline, primarily due to human disturbance and hunting.

Last year also saw the end of the Po’ouli, a songbird native to Hawaii, together with the extinction of the Brazilian songbirds the Alagoas Foliage-gleaner and the Cryptic Treehunter.

Brazil also saw the extinction of the Spix’s Macaw - the bird that inspired Rio -in the wild, although 60-80 of the bright blue parrots still remain in captivity.

A Hyacinth Macaw, currently housed at Parrot Mountain, in Pigeon Forge, TN, USA.

Image Credit: Sunira on Wikimedia Commons 


In a recent interview, conservation worker John Rendall, said that "in 50 years, 60% of the world's wildlife has vanished".

The WWF says: "To stop the decline of the natural systems that support us and all other animals on the planet, we need real change, all over the world.

"The challenge we face is to try to find ways of meeting the needs of our growing population while protecting nature and preventing climate change. Everyone-governments, businesses, communities and individuals - has a part to play in coming up with this new plan - a global deal for nature."

Read more from the Envrionment section here.

Lead Image: Sunira on Wikimedia Commons 

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