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Americas, Planet, Asia Pacific, Natural Capital & The Environment

Five endangered animal secies in danger of extinction due to human activity

Responsible Business | Apr 22, 2019

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“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall.

International Mother Earth Day is held every year on 22nd April. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Protect Our Species’. In the midst of climate change, a plastic pollution crisis and a sixth mass extinction — this year’s Earth Day seems even more important. Our planet has witnessed a 60% decline in animal populations between 1970 and 2014. Humans have catastrophically altered the planet through urbanization, pollution and consumerism, among other ways.

Below you will find 5 species of animals whose populations are dwindling fast due to climate change and human intervention:

1. Polar bear

Photo credit: Pexels

The demise of the polar bear is tied directly to the effects of global warming. Sea ice is the key habitat for the polar bear providing dens, hunting grounds, and means of travel. According to the World Wildlife Fund, polar bears spend more than 50% of their time hunting and are successful less than 2% of that time. Without decisive action to address Arctic warming, the long-term fate of this species is uncertain.

2. Orangutan

Photo credit: Unsplash

Orangutans share 96.4% of our genes and are highly intelligent creatures. Between 2,000 to 3,000 are killed every year with many experts believing that orangutans could be extinct in the wild in less than 50 years. Rainforest habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate due to deforestation and clearing of the land for pulp paper and palm oil plantations, with the remaining forest degraded by drought and forest fires. Without drastic intervention, these great apes may soon be extinct as biologically viable populations in the wild.

3. African elephant

Photo credit: Unsplash

The African elephant is the largest animal walking the Earth. Despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks. With human populations continuing to grow across their range, habitat loss and degradation – and conflict with communities – will remain major threats to elephants’ survival.

4. Green sea turtle

Photo credit: Unsplash

Green turtles live all over the world, nest in over 80 countries, and live in the coastal areas of more than 140 countries. Seagrass consumed by green turtles is quickly digested and becomes available as recycled nutrients to the many species of plants and animals that live in the sea grass ecosystem. Today, all green turtle populations are listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. They are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites.

5. Sloth

Photo credit: Unsplash

Sloths are medium-sized mammals native to Central and South America, which are known for their characteristic slow movement. They are an integral part of tropical rain forest ecosystems. But tropical rain forests are at risk of deforestation. Without an abundance of trees, sloths will lose their shelter and food source. When sloths come to the forest floor—which they do once a week to relieve themselves—they are more exposed to predators and can do little to fend them off.

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