Endangered Species Day: exploring our planet’s most endangered creatures

Today, 21 May, is Endangered Species Day. Celebrated every third Friday of May, thousands of people around the globe mark Endangered Species Day by learning about and taking steps to conserve and protect those species that are threatened and endangered. To celebrate, lets take a look at some of the world’s most endangered species.

What is an endangered species?

An endangered species, as defined by WWF, is one that is considered as facing an incredibly high risk of going extinct in their wild habitat. A species is sadly categorised as endangered when its population either decreases by at least 70% and the cause of this severe decline is known, or declines by 50% and the cause is unknown.

Here is just a handful of the species that are currently classified as either critically endangered or endangered (as of time of posting):

ORANGUTAN

All species of orangutan are sadly classed as critically endangered. With a name meaning ‘man of the forest’, it’s unsurprising that they’re the world’s largest arboreal animal, spending most of their lives in the trees.

ASIAN ELEPHANT

The largest land mammal found in Asia, this species of elephant is classed as endangered. Living in smaller herds that their African cousins, you can differentiate the two species by their ears with the Asian elephant having much smaller, triangular ears.

HAWKSBILL TURTLE

Found throughout the world’s tropical oceans, hawksbill turtles are classed as critically endangered. They get their name from their narrow, pointed beaks, which they use to pull sponges from crevices in the coral reefs.

GORILLA

Did you know, gorillas share 98.3% of their genes with us humans? Sadly, all species of gorilla are critically endangered as a result of deforestation, civil unrest, and poaching.

RED PANDA

This bear-like creature is slightly bigger than a domesticated cat with it’s thick, reddish-brown coloured fur. Classified as endangered, these animals are skilful and acrobatic climbers who spend the majority of their lives up in the trees.

To find out more about the endangered species we share our planet with, check out WWF’s species directory.

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