This year, April 22 celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day. It’s a day to remember how interwoven humans are to nature and how our decisions have a ripple effect on all living creatures. The world’s rarest animals have recently been identified by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Most are near extinction because of choices made by humans.
The Rarest of the Rare is a new book from the Wildlife Conservation Society that identifies some of the world’s most endangered animals around the world and the conservation efforts to save them. Discovery News recently revealed the animals that made it to the top of the list and are considered to be the most endangered creatures on the planet.
The Cuban crocodiles have been hunted until their numbers dwindled down to 3,000. They live across 186 square miles of the Zapata Swamp in Cuba, but this area is shrinking every year as their habitat is being turned into farmland. The National Zoo in Washington D.C. is trying to breed the animals in captivity and keep them from becoming extinct.
This national bird of Grenada is also threatened by habitat loss. Ninety percent of them were living on protected land in the Mt. Hartman National Park, but now the government has sold off portions of the park to companies that are developing a luxury hotel, golf course and world-class villas. There are only 200 Grenada doves left. Officials from the National Park are working to save the birds.
Florida Bonneted Bat
The Bonneted bat is the largest and the rarest bat with only 32 known colonies. Their habitat was lost to road construction and the use of pesticides in their forest homes. Bat Conservation International is trying to preserve their population, but the bats are elusive and have only been seen a few times.
This critically endangered amphibian once ran all over Costa Rica. Their homes were destroyed by industrialization to the country. Now only a few hundred exist in one pond at the top of a mountain in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Their habitat can only be reached by a two day hike and a conservation group watches over them.
The Hirola antelope were commonly found in East Africa at one time. They were victims of drought, hunting and humans that wanted their land. There are only 600 known Hirola living in the world today. The Kenya Wildlife Service has started a conservation program to protect them.
These natives of Madagascar are threatened by the illegal pet trade. There are only 400 left in the wild. Most of their habitat was set on fire to make it ready for use as farmland. A private non-profit conservation group called Durrell Wildlife Institute works to save them.
Island Gray Fox
This fox is native to the California Channel Islands and is the smallest fox in the United States. They lived a relatively isolated life until humans invaded their islands for recreation. This isolation left them with no immunity to common pet diseases and most were wiped out when people began bringing their dogs to the islands. A group named Friends of the Island Fox is trying to build back their population.
This primate has declined 80 percent in the past 75 years. They have seen their Indonesian forest home decrease for palm oil plantations and they have been hunted into near extinction. The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme is working to protect them.
This small ocean porpoise is also called the California harbor porpoise because it lives in the coastal waters of the Gulf California and Baja. There are 400 – 600 vaquita living in the warm waters. They have become critically endangered by commercial fishermen that catch them in their nets. Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation works to increase their numbers.
Only 59 of these monkeys remain on Cat Ba Island in Vietnam and a few hundred live in Southwest China. They have had their habitat destroyed for the farming of sugarcane and bamboo. There is no conservation program for these primates in Vietnam, but in China the Bapen Nature Reserve has stepped in to help.
All of these animals have come to the brink of extinction because of man’s influence on nature through industrialization, hunting, illegal trade and carelessness. On this 40th anniversary of Earth Day, please remember these “rarest of the rare” animals and help stop more creatures from being added to the list.
**More Care2 Earth Day Coverage**
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EARTH DAY:
HOW ARE ANIMALS AFFECTED?
THINGS TO PONDER
THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Creative Commons - Sumatran orangutan - Schristia
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