Featured Image Credit: Paula Olson via NOAA
By Lindsay Edgar
Every year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (or IUCN) updates its list of species that are critically endangered. And every year, that list seemingly continues to grow. Most of us have heard about some of the species that are on the list, but there are some that are so soon facing extinction, they deserved more notice.
These little guys hold the title for the world’s rarest marine mammal. Only growing up to five feet, these porpoises have a hard time staying out of fishing nets and become tangled very quickly. More than half of their population has been lost over the course of the past three years. Their numbers have shrunk to a measly 60 individuals. In the past, global conservation organizations implemented protection measures and also studied the Vaquita more closely to understand its role in the ecosystem and the threats they face. But now, they are on high alert and are working determinedly to preserve these porpoises.
2) Northern White Rhinoceros
Three’s definitely not a crowd for this endangered animal – considering there are only three left in the whole world. Just one of the three is a large male named Sudan who is under 24 hour guard surveillance at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Poaching is the main concern here, so armed guards in watchtowers do their part to save the last of the gentle giants. (Obviously not a marine animal… but deserved a mention!)
3) North Atlantic Right Whale
The North Atlantic Right Whale is another rare marine mammal species on the IUCN’s Red List. Currently, there are approximately 450 of its kind still surviving in the oceans. The mammal is one of the most endangered of all large whale species. After a long history of human exploitation, scientists are not seeing any signs of recovery even though they’ve been protected from whaling since the 1930s.
This is only a list of three critically endangered species on the IUCN Red List (out of 79,800). And it’s not all bad news – some species have rebounded thanks to public outreach and conservation efforts worldwide. Sadly, the downfall is the lack of action within the global community. With rising awareness and sensitivity to the decline in global biodiversity, humans can make small but meaningful changes in the lives of these endangered animals.