Animals face so many threats around the world, from poachers attacking them to habitat loss from deforestation. Global climate change also threatens to destabilize already stressed ecosystems. But exactly how many animals are endangered because of humans? The answer below might surprise you.
Unfortunately, for every charismatic animal listed — polar bears, penguins, rhinos, etc. — there are scores of lesser known animals (and don’t forget plants), from alligator snapping turtles to suckermouth catfish.
Endangered Animals Due To Climate Change
Humans affect climate change by adding greenhouse gas to the atmosphere, which raises the planet’s temperature, consequently melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and warming oceans. Climate change also creates droughts, which threaten animals’ food and freshwater sources. The largest man-made contributions to climate change come from running factories and power plants, heating and cooling homes, and driving automobiles.
Examples Of How Many Animals Are Endangered Because Of Humans
- Only about 350 North American Right Whales are living
- With rising temperatures killing off their food, these whales can no longer bulk up for pregnancy
- 90% of Loggerhead Turtles are female
- Changes in temperature have affected nesting conditions, skewing gender ratio
- Penguin populations have declined about 60%
- Since the 1960’s, Antarctic penguins have been vanishing due to a loss of habitat resulting from melting sea ice
- Polar bears are 10% thinner than 30 years ago
- Rising temperatures are melting sea ice, leaving hungry polar bears with less hunting grounds
Endangered Animals That Are Poached
While poaching has various effects, its most direct and drastic impact is extinction, either globally or regionally. Poaching is the illegal hunting, capture, or collection of wildlife. Snaring is a common form of poaching that leads to the maiming of many animals not intended for consumption. Populations of elephants, gorillas, rhinos, leopards, and cheetahs are just some examples of endangered animals that are poached.
How Many Animals Are Endangered Because Of Poaching
- The population of Elephants was cut 50% between 1981 and 1989
- There were 5 to 10 million African elephants in 1930 — less than 1% of that number now exist.
- Only 3,200 Tigers remain
- In just over a century, poaching has led to the loss of 97% of wild tigers
- Poachers sell Rhino horn for 5 times more than the value of gold
- In some areas, 2 to 3 rhinos are killed per week for their horns, which are sold as medicine on the black market
Endangered Animals Due To Loss Of Habitat
Endangered animals due to loss of habitat would be the greatest threat to biodiversity on earth, being the primary threat to 85% of species. Most habitat loss is due to intensive harvesting and expansion of agricultural land. The biggest causes include logging, agriculture, oil exploration, and other human disasters.
Examples Of Endangered Animals Due To Habitat Loss
- 80% of Orangutans have disappeared in 100 years
- Logging in Indonesia for palm oil plantations has left the orangutan population critically endangered
- There are only 1600 Pandas in the wild
- Much of the pandas’ habitat has been destroyed by logging, with some areas under pressure from human development
- Amur Leopards are critically endangered
- Due to extensive habitat loss and conflict with humans, there are only 25 to 35 leopards left in the wild
The infographic above, by National Geographic, gives a quick glance (and an easy share image) at some of the biggest threats showing how many animals are endangered because of humans, as well as some of the better-known species under assault.