Tag Archives: elephant

Wildlife Extinction and Endangerment

Since the rise of the Industrial Revolution, human advancements have been catapulted to undeniable heights. Renewable energy, dams, bridges, sky rises, and housing created and now dot the skyline. But with the rise of these developments came continuing damage to multiple wildlife ecosystems, causing wildlife extinction and endangerment. Many areas that were previously home to various wildlife were manipulated, condensed, or in certain circumstances even completely eliminated in order to accommodate the needs of the human population.

By the turn of the 21st century, thousands of animals have gone extinct and even more entered the status of critically endangered as identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Poaching and requisitions for believed, though often unfounded, medicinal effects or even just for internal decoration and clothing have caused an alarming degradation of these animals’ numbers, with some even going completely extinct. Below are a few of these animals that experienced a problematic decline.

Baiji Dolphin

baiji dolphin

A male baiji dolphin typically was around 7.5 feet long and 8.2 feet for females, with a record length of 8.1 feet. They had a bottle-nosed, slightly upturned beak and a bottle-shaped body.[Image: http://mnn.com/]

The baiji dolphin was native to the Yangtze River in China. It is currently declared extinct, with the last verified sighting reported way back in 2004. There was evidently a supposed sighting of a lone baiji back in 2007, but with no other sightings since and with no other known baiji in the area, it is said to not have any possible way of maintaining its population. Their extinction was due to massive pollution in the Yangtze River and the building of dams and land reclamation that illuminated their niche. The further industrialization of China has made the baiji a popular hunting target as its skin and eyes hold a high monetary value as well. Although hunting was not the most significant factor in the extinction of the baiji and it was instead caused by massive human industrial expansion, a lack of of knowledge and timely conservation ultimately led to the demise and extinction of the species.

Western Black Rhinoceros

western black rhino

A western black rhino weighed as much as 1.5 tons in its prime. It primarily resided in Africa and was a kind, social animal. [Image: http://i.imgur.com/]

The western black rhinoceros was native to Africa and was rich in population up until around the 20th century when hunting for their horns became more common. Their decline was such that their numbers deteriorated to just 10 within a century, and just a year after that sharp decline, only five were left before their complete demise in 2004. The major cause of the western black rhino’s extinction was poaching and hunting for their horns. Some cultures held the belief that their horns contained medicinal attributes, and with a lack of conservation efforts and the demand of the horn and skin from the rhinos in the black market, they were hunted extensively to extinction.

As of now, other rhinos are also facing a critical endangered status, and preservation efforts are currently underway to keep them from following in the tracks of the western black rhino. Unfortunately, preserving them is proving to be difficult due to a lack of sufficient conservation efforts in place. Hopefully with more awareness, these ancient creatures can be saved and left to peacefully roam in the lands where they have thrived for millions of years.



Tigers are probably one of the most elegant creatures in the wild, its white, gold, and black stripes a staple of the animal. Part of the charismatic megafauna, it is commonly the face of conservation advocacies. [Image: http://spiritanimals.wikia.com/]

While tigers are generally prohibited from being hunted and are well protected by conservationists, they are still subject to poaching, their continuously dwindling numbers a testament to this. Like rhinos, tigers are also subject to being sold in the black market as medicine, ornaments, and aphrodisiacs. While conservation efforts are strict, there is still a large case of tiger poaching and selling them within the black market.

Sumatran Elephant

sumatran elephant

Sumatran Elephants are social, gentle mammals. They have an average length of five to nine feet and can grow up to 20 feet and weigh approximately five tons. [Image: http://www.berdiri.org/]

Another critically endangered species is the Sumatran elephant. The decline in their numbers is primarily caused by poaching for their ivory tusks as well as an immense loss of habitat due to agricultural efforts. Found in the Riau province in Sumatra, Indonesia, these elephants once roamed the island widely before poaching led to their sharp and continuous population regression; they lost 50 percent of their population in just 22 years due to poaching. In certain local places in Sumatra, they are now locally extinct where they once were widespread. A combination of these factors continues to threaten their existence even today.

These animals are only a few examples of those that were badly affected by the illegal poaching and industrialization efforts of mankind. It is important to be aware of the proper rules and regulations toward wildlife in order to continue the preservation methods currently in place. Head on over to our Rules & Regulations sections in our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to help you stay informed of the proper do’s and don’ts. With combined preservation efforts, we can still assist in keeping these beautiful creatures safe and sound.

Fact or Fiction: Debunking Popular Animal Myths

Most, if not all, state and national parks have wildlife viewing listed as an activity for park visitors. With its diverse ecology, park visitors can find everything from a roseate spoonbill to a giant desert centipede. But where there’s an animal, there’s a tale behind it. You might have heard that frogs will give you warts or that elephants are afraid of mice. Where does this stuff come from? This article will debunk some popular animal myths in hopes of clearing up any fears you may have the next time you come across one in a park.

1. Touching toads or frogs will give you warts.

Animal Myrths

Image: www.//i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02246/cane-toad_2246996b.jpg

Growing up, some of your grandmothers may have told you that if you touched a toad, you’d get warts. Let’s see if that’s the case.

Verdict Says:

Not true. Toads may make you bristle on sight, but they most definitely won’t give you warts, despite appearing to have them all over their bodies. The Health and Wellbeing section of MSN.com says the wart-like growths are actually an accumulation of mucus and poison glands. When threatened, toads will release a secretion through those glands. Those secretions can cause stomach pain and seizures, but not warts.

2. Caterpillars are poisonous.

Animal Myths

Image: www.the-toast.net/okay/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/caterpillar.jpg

But butterflies are so pretty. How could the larval form of these beautiful creatures pose any danger? The myth is that some of these creepy crawlers are dangerous to the touch. The hairs on their wormy bodies look like prickly needles that would send anyone to the E.R. if touched. So, what’s the deal? Are they OK for us to pick up and play with or should we turn over and leave them alone?

Verdict Says:

Some caterpillars are poisonous, but not all. Environmental Graffiti says the most dangerous caterpillar is the bag shelter caterpillar, which should never be touched, because it’s highly poisonous, but there’s nothing for people in the continental U.S. to worry about since they’re mostly found in South America.

Image: www.tumblr_myg89t8kxc1rpe379o2_r1_500.gif

Image: www.tumblr_myg89t8kxc1rpe379o2_r1_500.gif

The puss caterpillar, also known as the woolly slug, is the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States, according to EG. This furry insect has the ability to spit acid and has poisonous spines covering its body. People commonly mistake the puss caterpillar for a cotton ball, so be careful next time you’re around citrus trees, elms, oaks and various garden plants.

3. Mother birds will reject baby birds once a human touches them.

Animal Myths

Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_WS6P9q5wWio/S_IdHiN9RlI/AAAAAAAACbo/76WZVbgOJVg/s1600/IMG_1737%2B(2).jpg

When one of our staffers was in first grade, a baby bird fell out of its nest, which was located in the roof of an outside passageway. Mrs. New, the gray-haired science teacher, told the students not to touch the bird because the mother would reject it if it had a human scent. The students figured since they didn’t wear perfume or cologne, they didn’t have a scent. Needless to say, they picked it up and played with it when she left. So did they ruin the bird’s life forever or could the mother care less, as long as she got her baby back? This is one of the most popular animal myths around. Let’s find out its truthiness!

Verdict Says:

Not true. Scientific American says birds won’t abandon their young due to human touch. The article says if a bird’s nest is disturbed, sometimes they will make a new nest in another place, but if there’s a baby bird in the nest, there’s very little chance they will abandon it. The article points out that birds don’t even have a high enough sense of smell to pick up a human scent (with the exception of turkeys and vultures, which are attracted to a gas produced by decaying organisms). But just because you’re free to touch little birdies, it doesn’t mean you should go to any nests and ruffle any feathers.

4. Snakes seek revenge/chase people.

Image: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/jungle-book

Image: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/jungle-book

You’re out hiking one day and mistakenly step on a snake hidden behind a log. The snake quickly becomes angry and begins to chase you.  We know snakes are venomous, but are they also vengeful? There’ve been stories about snakes getting revenge on people who have harmed a family member or tried to attack people without being provoked.

Verdict Says:

It’s only a myth. When threatened, snakes will either lay still, flee or try to defend themselves or their nests, but won’t be the aggressor, says the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Cases have arisen where people think the snake may be on its way to attack, but it’s actually on its way to its hiding spot behind the person.

5. Elephants are afraid of mice.

Animal Myths

Image: www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Elephant-and-Mouse.jpg

Who isn’t afraid of mice, though? For hundreds of years, it’s been said mice were elephants’ biggest enemies. The Discovery Channel says this tale started in 77 A.D. by Pliny the Elder who said, “the elephant hates the mouse above all other creatures.” But why? What evolutionary fear would mice incite in elephants to make them so afraid?

Verdict Says:

No.  Live Science says elephants are simply startled by the small creatures rather than scared of them. This is due to their poor eyesight. In fact, Live Science says it could be any small animal that makes sudden movements that would give an elephant a scare

Now that we’ve debunked some animal myths, if you want to know what animals you can find in a specific state park, just download the free Pocket Ranger® mobile app in your state and look under the Wildlife Viewing section. Enjoy!