Tag Archives: International Union for Conservation of Nature

Most Endangered Species in the U.S.

As a nod to the most recent World Wildlife Day, we put our lenses toward four of the most critically endangered species in the United States. So what classifies species as critically endangered, you may ask?

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is the organization heralded as the leader for research, data analysis, field projects, advocacy, and lobbying primarily for nature conservation. Established in 1948 in France, the organization has since expanded as a respected key influencer for species and habitat conservation throughout the world. It produced the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which gives the categorization levels of species based on their status within their ecosystem and how they are being affected by internal and external factors.

The IUCN Red List has three main categories: Extinct, Threatened, and Lower Risk. Threatened and Lower Risk have five and three subcategories, respectively. Threatened has Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VU), and Near Threatened (NT). On the other hand, Lower Risk has Least Concern (LC), Data Deficient (DD), and Not Evaluated (NE).

IUCN's Red List.

Breakdown of IUCN’s Red List. [Image: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/]

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on Critically Endangered (CR). These animals are at high risk for extinction. There are about 1,500 species that fall under the CR category, and approximately 300 of these alone are in the United States. Below are a few animals who are on the critically endangered list.

Red Wolf

red wolf part of the most endangered species sitting on long

A gorgeous red wolf seemingly suspicious of whatever it’s staring at. [Image: www.forechange.com/]

The red wolf is known for its characteristic reddish fur, with some brown and black colors running along its back. It is shorter than its relative, the much more powerful grey wolf, only standing at an average 45–80 pounds, 26 inches at the shoulder, and about four feet from the tip of its nose to its tail.

The red wolf is in danger due to habitat extinction and as a result of poachers and hunters. Unfortunately the red wolf’s closeness to coyotes have made it a growing target of accidental killings due to hunting. The USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) has been attempting to increase support and conservation of the red wolf as its numbers continue to decrease in the wild.

American Burying Beetle

american burying beetle

The American burying beetle as seen under a careful photographic lense. [Image: www.fws.gov/]

The American burying beetle is a large insect characterized by black and orange bands on its body; its antennae, head, and front legs have orange tips, patches, and spots. It suffers from dangers of extinction from a variety of causes: Less habitat range, unavailability of carcasses that these beetles utilize as a crucial part of their breeding habits, a possible reduction of reproduction due to genetic characteristics, and more carcass competition.

The U.S. FWS have been attempting to slowly reintroduce the American burying beetle to the public with a laboratory colony in Massachusetts. They are hoping to pinpoint the cause of the decline of these species.

Hawksbill Turtle

hawksbill turtle

A beautiful photo of a hawksbill turtle luxuriously swimming in the ocean. [Image: www.worldwildlife.org/]

The hawksbill sea turtle is an old species that primarily resides in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific areas, with some numbers found in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii as well. It is characterized by a flat body, beak-like mouth, and protective carapace with black and brown across its back and sides. It can grow up to one meter long and can reach up to 280 pounds.

The hawksbill’s numbers have been decreasing due to human exploitation, loss of habitat, human and animal encroachment on its nesting sites, and the reptile’s slow maturation. Currently the IUCN and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service consider it endangered.

Gopher Frog

gopher frog on ground part of the Most Endangered Species list

The Mississippi gopher frog averages three inches in length with a dark brown or black dorsal surface covered in warts. [Image: www.onegreenplanet.org/]

From its widely spread numbers, the gopher frog, also known as the Mississippi gopher frog, is now quickly declining to its extinction. It is now one of the rarest amphibians in North America, with only a 100 adults remaining in Harrison County, Mississippi. This population shift is largely due to adult mortality and a large difference in ages at maturity (females mature at 24–36 months while males do so at six to eight months), and the males not returning to mate because of the animals’ predisposition to being highly solitary. Conservation efforts are now in place to preserve the gopher frog’s population, with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service combining forces in order to rehabilitate and create a future breeding site for these amphibians.

The aforementioned species are only four of the more than 100 critically endangered species in the United States. It is unfortunate that the most common denominator for their extinction is human involvement. Currently massive rehabilitation and conservation efforts are in place in order to put a stop to their declining numbers. If you wish to be more involved in the conservation efforts, we suggest visiting USFWS, U.S. Forest Service, and IUCN’s websites to learn how you can join in on the conversation of rehabilitation efforts.

And as always, don’t forget to check out your Pocket Ranger® apps to check out volunteer options in your state parks or viewing options for the other endangered species in the country. The app is available in both the Apple Store and Google Play. Download now, and get involved!

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.

Tiger

tigers

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.