By Rachel Cernansky, Planet Green
The reasons that animals get to be on the endangered list are many and complex, but habitat and lack of safe refuge have a lot to do with it.
The Gulf of Mexico, for example, has been too cold lately for the manatees who usually live there, and the mammals have instead been turning up in the warm waters of power plant discharge canals.
More than 300 manatees—mammals whose immune systems are weakened in the cold—swam into the discharge of Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station in Florida last week, the BBC reports.
Central Africa’s mountain gorillas might win for the world’s most dangerous habitat, and between habitat destruction and ongoing conflict in the region, their population has been brought to the brink of extinction, with no place to go for refuge. Add the world’s only remaining mountain gorillas living in the mountainous region spanning Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the list of reasons to stop the conflict in that region (which means taking a little responsibility for the role our gadgets play in perpetuating it).
Related: 10 Most Threatened Animal Species
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is really suffering not only because of climate change, but also because of runoff from the coast of nutrients, fertilizers, pesticides, sewage, and oil. It’s putting the delicate balance of life in the world’s largest reef system in serious jeopardy.
Gulf of Aden
The waters where Somali pirates often strike are also home to plenty of marine life, including many coral species, the Crown Butterfly fish, which is found only in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and thousands of sea turtles. Female turtles have been tagged and identified as nesting in South Yemen and then recaptured in Somalia, more than 2000 km away.
Forests of Indonesia
The orangutans in Indonesia are running out of space to go, too. Logging operations and the global demand for palm oil have nearly wiped out the territory these primates call home, and social conflicts have been on the rise, reports The Ecologist, “as people who depend on forests for their livelihoods are being forced to change their way of life.”
Related: 5 Environmental Crises to Care About
Madagascar is not just a DreamWorks film; it’s a real-life ecological wonderland. But it’s under threat from the usual suspects: deforestation, erosion, exploitation of resources—including hunting and people collecting wild animals—and introduction of alien species.
Top 10 Countries Killing the Planet