As we go into the new year, many of us are planning new starts. But some critically endangered animals might not get similar chances. Right now 17 species are critically endangered, and here are a few that barely survived into 2016.
The animal often called the “Asian unicorn” may soon exist only in our imaginations. Scientists discovered the cousin to cattle more than 20 years ago and found it in the wild only four times since. Living deep in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos, their exact population numbers are unknown, but deforestation is destroying their rainforest home.
2. Yangtze Finless Porpoise
A decade ago, human activity wiped out the first entire dolphin species in the very river that the Yangtze finless porpoise calls home. The freshwater porpoise—said to be as smart as a gorilla—may soon follow. Its populations in Asia’s longest river are down to fewer than 1,800 animals, and overfishing threatens its food supplies. Conservationists hope a relocation project last December to safer waters may help bolster their numbers.
3. Javan Rhino
We said goodbye to the Western black rhino back in 2011. We may soon have to do similar with the Javan rhino, declared “probably the rarest large mammal on the planet” by the World Wildlife Fund. About 60 of these live in a national park on the Indonesian island of Java. Threats to the critically endangered species include poachers cutting down their numbers and an invasive palm encroaching on the grasses and browse they feed upon. Plus, as they live together in a single population, a natural disaster could wipe them all out.
4. Hawksbill Turtle
In such dire circumstances, we may wonder what we can do to either save these creatures or ones like them in the future. Gary Frazer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a few words of advice, as told to Vogue.
“It ranges from the simple to the more complex. Like not purchasing or supporting any illegal wildlife trade, being sensitive to that impact. In a larger sense, being aware of the ecological footprint we all have. Whether we have three homes as opposed to one home. Being conscious of the impact we make when we move onto a habitat,” Frazer says. “Those are all things humans can influence. There’s going to have to be a purposeful effort on the part of the public to reverse the negative effects of that change.”
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