More than 26,500 species are under the threat of becoming extinct. That’s more than 27 percent of all assessed species. Among the list of endangered species are those that are critically endangered. These animals are the ones with the most series threat of extinction in the wild. In 2014, there were 2,464 animal species on the list. Here are four of the species that may be extinct within a few years unless drastic measures are taken.
Hawksbill sea turtle
The Hawksbill turtle is among the most critically endangered species in the world. In the last 100 years, 90 percent of the Hawksbill turtle was lost. Eighty percent of that loss occurred in the previous ten years. Hawksbill turtles are illegally hunted for their brown and gold patterned shells, which are then sold on the black market. Their shells are one of the most frequently confiscated illegal items by customs officials.
Amur leopards have been on the IUCN list of critically endangered animals since 1996. As of last, it’s estimated there were only 80 surviving members in the wild and 200 worldwide in human care. Part of the reason for the animal’s extinction is because they’re hunted for their fur. Their natural habitat is also being destroyed due to human settlement and agriculture practices. There is some good news though, as two cubs were just recently born at the Beardsley Zoo in Connecticut.
Vaquitas are considered the rarest mammal in the world, with less than 100 members thought to exist. They live only in the Gulf of California, located between Baja California and the northwest coast of mainland Mexico. Pollution and habitat destruction stemming from the Colorado River dam is one of the leading causes of their downfall. The other is illegal fishing for Totoaba; the gillnets used to catch the exotic fish entangle vaquitas and cause them to drown.
Red wolves are native to the southeast and Florida, but now only live in Eastern North Carolina. It’s believed that there are only 24 surviving members of the species and by 1980, they were declared extinct in the wild. Intensive predator control programs and the loss of habitat led to their population being decimated by the 1960s. Once announced endangered in 1973, efforts were made to capture them in the wild to keep the species alive. Biologists captured seventeen wolves, and 14 of those were used to start a successful captive breeding program.