10 – Pangolin
These ancient animals have existed for 80 million years but they are in rapid decline due to recently becoming the most trafficked animals on the earth. Pangolins are being driven to extinction due to their unique scales, which are sold throughout China and Vietnam as folk cures for anything from acne to cancer. Meanwhile, their meat is eaten as a delicacy. It is thought that more than million of the scaly creatures have been killed in the last decade.
09 – Sumatran Tiger
They are the smallest surviving tiger subspecies with only 400 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild. The tiger is suffering due to accelerating deforestation. This has resulted in part from illegal timber harvesting, which has greatly reduced the tiger’s food supply. This habitat destruction has pushed the tigers out and they now enter villages in search of food leading to villagers slaughtering the big cats in retaliation. As well as reduced habitat, an estimated 78% of tiger deaths are thought to be caused by hunters who sell the tigers body parts on the black market.
08 – Vaquita
A rare species of porpoise, the Vaquita was first discovered by science in 1958. However, due to illegal fishing operations in their habitat the marine mammal has been driven to the edge of extinction, with their population dropping by 92% in just 20 years. Vaquitas share their environment with the Toto aba fish which is hunted as a traditional Chinese delicacy. However, the Vaquitas often get entangled and suffocate to death in the nets. It is thought that unless the Mexican government immediately bans fishing within its habitat, the Vaquita will be extinct by 2018.
07 – Saola
Known as the Asian unicorn, this rarely seen mammal has the only see documented by scientists four times. Saola were first discovered in 1992, and it is unknown how many of these majestic creatures are left, although they are considered to be close to extinction. Their existence is threatened by the dramatic loss of forest habitat, which has been overtaken to make way for agriculture, plantations, and general infrastructure. This has left Saola vulnerable to hunters, who are fueled by a demand for traditional medicine and food in China, Vietnam, and Laos.
06 – Sumatran Orangutan
This species of Orangutan lives almost exclusively in the trees and relies on high-quality forests to call their home. But within the last thirty years, almost half of its habitat has been destroyed to make space for plantations, killing the apes in the process. Furthermore, these Orangutans are imprisoned in households as status symbols, while others are hunted for illegal trafficking. Due to low birth rates, experts estimate that just a decrease of 1% of the female population annually would be enough to cause the species to spiral into extinction. And if this Orangutan does go extinct, so will several species of tree, as the animals play a vital role in the forests seed dispersal.
05 – Black Rhino
Since Europeans settled in Africa during the early 20th century, the existence of the Black Rhino has been under threat. Hunters would often kill five or six Rhinos a day for food or just entertainment. Others considered the animals to be vermin and engaged in a brutal campaign of extermination with a staggering 96% of the Black Rhino population killed between 1970 and 1992. Today Black Rhino are still facing an incredible threat from poaching, with their horns being used for folk remedies, particularly in Vietnam.
04 – Hawksbill Turtle
Despite the species having existed on earth for the last 100 million years due to fishing and poaching, the hawksbills population has declined by 80% in the last century. The hawksbill turtles are fundamental to maintaining the coral reefs, but they are suffering from a loss of feeding and nesting habitats due to pollution and coastal developments. Meanwhile, surviving turtles often drown after being caught on fishing hooks. However, the turtles are most endangered due to being hunted for their beautiful shells, which are used as jewelry and ornaments in eastern Asia.
03 – Cross River Gorillas
With just an estimated two to three hundred of them left in the wild, the cross river gorillas are the world’s rarest apes. Forced to encroach on human territory due to deforestation, the cross river gorillas are increasingly vulnerable to being hunted into extinction. Despite the hunting of gorillas being illegal in both Cameroon and Nigeria, law enforcement to protect wildlife is often lax. As this gorilla population is so small the death of even a few of them has a massive blow to the species genetic diversity, due to forced inbreeding.
02 – Sumatran Elephant
In less than 25 years Sumatran elephant numbers have declined by 80%. Within one generation the elephant habitat has been lost to paper industries and palm oil plantations, leaving the mammals no choice but to live closer to human settlements. However, these massive animals cause huge damage to their human neighbors by raiding crops, trampling homes, and killing people in their way. Conservation efforts are aimed at reducing human revenge attacks against the elephants, but the animals are still at risk from poachers, who kill the elephants for their ivory tusks.
01 – Amur Leopard
Amur Leopards are the rarest and most endangered big cats in the world. Tragically they have been brought to the brink of extinction due to the destruction of their habitat after years of logging and forest fires. Furthermore, these beautiful animals are poached for their luxurious fur as well as their body parts with their bones being used in traditional Asian medicines. With less than 70 of these animals existing in the wild the Amur Leopard is at risk of inbreeding, which will render the species weak and with genetic defects.