The world is changing, but for many of the wild animals on the planet, not for the better. For that reason, Tim Flasch decided to document
The world as we know it is constantly changing but not always for the better. Some of the most amazing animals to have ever existed are now in real danger of becoming extinct in the coming decades. Mostly, this is due to humans encroaching on their territories, and conservationists have been trying to reverse this impact for years.
It’s a constant battle and one that environmentalists appear to be losing. There is no one region in the world where animals are safe from the threat of extinction as each continent suffers from how our environment is changing. Endangered species are called such because it means they are likely to be extinct in the near future, especially if nothing is done to improve their territories.
The list is ever-growing, and it means many of the most amazing creatures will soon only be able to be seen in zoos or in museums. These are some of the world’s most endangered species. It's time to do our bit, before it’s too late and they’re gone forever.
The polar bear is the most famous of all the bears, but their numbers are very low in the wild. Their natural habitat is the Arctic Circle, but with the melting ice caps, their homes are no longer as big as they once were. Polar bears feed on seals resting on the ice, but with fewer icebergs in the water, hunting is difficult.
Their habitat is slowly shrinking as it all melts away, meaning the hungry bears are not able to get as much food as they’d like. Some polar bears sighted in recent years are noticeably skinnier than ever.
You might not have heard of sea angels before, but they are cute little creatures that live in water. They come across like insects, but really they are a species of sea slug that swims. The wings that make them look like angels are fins that they use to propel themselves through the water.
Sea angels are at risk of extinction largely due to the acidification of our oceans, which is caused by the increase in carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. This is changing the pH of the oceans and making them inhospitable for the creatures living in them.
The pied tamarin is native to the Brazilian rainforest, and like many animals in the Amazon, they are endangered. There is so much deforestation happening that these animals are frequently losing their homes. Urban areas are encroaching onto the pied tamarin’s territory, which means they are being attacked by feral cats and dogs.
It seems nowhere is safe for the pied tamarin in their environments, and it’s only a matter of time before they become extinct unless they get some help. Their black faces make them a distinctive animal but perhaps one that’s not likely to be around much longer.
The problem with living in the desert is that it can be very isolating. The Arabian oryx is a type of antelope that is native to the desert in the Arabian peninsula, but by the 1970s there were thought to be none left. There were none left in the wild, but thankfully there were some in captivity.
Those Arabian oryx were part of a breeding program which has seen their numbers rise over the years, and around 1,000 of them were reintroduced to their natural habitat. The oryx has been saved, but they aren’t out of the woods yet.
The Egyptian vulture might be one of the unluckiest animal species found anywhere in the world. They are sometimes known as the white scavenger, or the pharaoh’s chicken, and their numbers are falling. They have been hunted to near extinction, but that’s not the only reason why there are so few Egyptian vultures left in the world.
Their habitat stretches all the way from India to North Africa, and in those areas, they have had many fatal accidents. Egyptian vultures are considered endangered due to how often they end up getting accidentally poisoned, or they fly into power lines.
Red-eyed tree frog (Litoria chloris)
The red-eyed tree frog, also called orange-eyed and yellow-eyed, is a type of amphibian that is found in eastern Australia. The ones with that have distinctively yellow eyes are slowing heading for extinction thanks to a number of reasons.
Firstly, the changing climate is causing their numbers to reduce significantly, but they are also falling victim to the pet trade. These frogs are being plucked from their natural homes by poachers and being kept in tanks as people’s pets. There is also a spread of damaging fungus in their natural habitats, which is putting them in danger even further.
Northern white rhinoceros
It won’t be long before the northern white rhinoceros is totally extinct. There are only two of them left in the world, and they are both females, so there’s no chance that their numbers can somehow be saved.
The only living white rhinoceros left are found in Kenya, but with a life expectancy of around 40 to 50 years, there really isn’t too long left for them. There are a few other types of rhinoceros which have a better chance at survival. Many rhinos are hunted down for their horns, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy.
The shoebill seems to be a bird that somehow survived the ice age and made it safely through prehistoric times. Shoebills are unique looking birds that are native to swamplands in east African countries such as Sudan and Zambia.
There are believed to be around 5,000 to 8,000 shoebills left in the world. These animals, with their unique beaks, are endangered due to losing much of their habitats. That’s not the only danger facing the shoebill, however, and they are also being hunted due to their uniqueness. Shoebills are also just generally being disturbed, which is negatively affecting their numbers.
As things stand, the hippopotamus is not in serious danger of becoming extinct, but three different species of the animal already no longer exist. They are one of the most dangerous animals in the world, but that hasn’t stopped some poachers from trying their luck at stealing their teeth.
Those huge teeth, that can chomp a person in half, are ivory... So are becoming highly sought after for people on the black market. The hippo is worth protecting, so significant efforts need to be made to ensure they don’t suffer as many other animals have at the hands of poachers.
Is there a more mesmerizing bird than the Philippine eagle? You can almost get lost in its eyes forever when it looks at you. This bird has been known as the monkey-eating eagle because it was thought for a long time that the only thing it ate was monkeys.
As more research was done on them, it was discovered that the Philippine eagle also likes to eat other animals such as snakes, other birds, and lizards. It’s a pretty formidable animal, but the number of Philippine eagles is dwindling due to deforestation and its natural habitat disappearing.
Fireflies are some of the coolest bugs on the planet thanks to their torsos which light up. They are found in generally warm or temperate climates and especially love to come out during twilight hours in the evening. These little bugs actually use their lights for reproduction purposes, and they use their glowing bodies to find one another.
Because of the nature of their mating routine, fireflies are super sensitive to any other lights, and they can become confused when other lights are present. That’s why light pollution is the biggest threat to fireflies, and it’s all down to humans.
The giant panda is many people’s favorite because they seem so cute and fluffy, plus their colors are great. They have long been considered an endangered species, but recently that status was changed to vulnerable. Conservation efforts have been made over the past few decades to ensure the giant population grows and they’re beginning to pay off.
The giant panda is famously not that great at reproducing, but conservationists have found ways of getting them in the mood. These bears feed almost exclusively on bamboo though, and with deforestation being a global problem, their food sources are becoming more scarce.
The cheetah is known as the fastest animal in the world thanks to the incredible speeds it reaches when hunting for prey. They are found in many regions across Africa, but it’s thought there are only an estimated 7,000 wild cheetahs left. The problem for the cheetah is that because they are spread across such a wide area, their numbers can’t be controlled.
These cheetah communities are gradually becoming more isolated from each other, and it’s thought their numbers will continue to fall. Due to agriculture, the cheetahs have also lost much of their habitats which isn’t helping them.
Where is the one place monkeys spend their time over anywhere else? The proboscis monkey lives in trees, just like many other monkeys, but they are losing their homes every day. They are some of the most unusual monkeys in the world thanks to their distinctive long noses.
Loggers in Borneo, where the proboscis monkey lives, are cutting down vast amounts of trees away from this species and it’s forcing them to find other homes. Those homes are not as safe as the trees and, in the last 40 years, an estimated 50% of the proboscis monkeys have been lost.
The Siamese crocodile is finding fewer and fewer places to live thanks to the influence of humans in its natural habitat. These crocodiles are native to southeast Asia and live in freshwater, but they are being pushed to the edges of where they originally came from.
There are thought to only be a handful of them left in the wild, but there is a healthy number of them being held in captivity. There’s an estimated 700,000 living on commercial crocodile farms where they are being bred. It’s not ideal, but at least the Siamese crocodile still exists - for now.
It might seem as though coral isn't a live thing, but they are actually marine invertebrates. Despite their bright colors, there is a risk that we are going to see fewer and fewer of them in the future. Due to the rising temperatures in the sea and the acidification of our oceans, coral are slowly but surely going extinct.
Some of the largest coral reefs in the world are diminishing, and others are disappearing completely. The rising sea temperature is something we’ve not yet got a handle on, so it’s likely more coral are going to disappear before something can be done.
Western lowland gorilla
There are just two subspecies of the western gorilla, but if things continue the way they have been, there might only be one soon. The western lowland gorilla is classified as critically endangered after being hunted to the brink of extinction. They live in the lowland swamps and forests of central Africa but have found their homes getting smaller and smaller.
With fewer places to hide due to logging, the western lowland gorilla is slowly becoming extinct. Like many other animals, if nothing is done to stop the hunting of the western lowland gorilla, they won’t be around much longer.
It might look a little bit like Alf the TV alien, but the saiga is very much from this planet. The saiga is a critically endangered species of antelope that lives between Mongolia and Kazakhstan in the Eurasian zone.
Its defining feature is the strangely shaped face it has, and they are one of the most interesting species of antelope on the planet. They look pretty cute, but they are at risk of being hunted into extinction due to poachers. Their population is declining drastically as poachers seek to take their horns, which are highly desired on the black market.
Lemur leaf frog
When you look into a lemur leaf frog’s eyes, it’s easy to see where they got their name. The black and white eyes mimic the tail of the lemur, and these little frogs are an endangered species. Their natural habit is the jungles of Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica. In fact, these frogs are critically endangered due to a disease that has ravaged their population.
Chytridiomycosis is the disease that’s wiping out the amphibian population across the world, and there’s no known prevention to stop it from spreading. The lemur leaf frog will be extinct unless chytridiomycosis can be stopped.
At one stage, it looked as though it was game over for the Iberian lynx as their numbers were as low as just 100 in the wild. The wild cat lives in southwestern Europe, right on the Iberian peninsula, but a real effort had to be made to make sure they survived.
Conservationists have helped these wild cats make a comeback, and by 2012 there were thought to be around 300 Iberian lynx living in the Andalusian region. They are such a strikingly different cat from many others that it would be a shame if they were to become extinct.
The Indian gharial is one of the most unusual looking crocodiles in the world thanks to its long and narrow jaws. That mouth filled with teeth has evolved to make the Indian gharial excellent at fishing. In the wild, they are extremely endangered, and there’s only around 235 left.
Once upon a time, these species of gharial used to inhabit all of the Indian river systems, but now there are so few remaining. They can still be found in India, but they are becoming less common thanks to river pollution, loss of available food, illegal sand mining, and fishing nets.
To look at a snow leopard you wouldn’t necessarily think it was a vulnerable animal, but they really are. Their fur is distinctive, which makes them a target for poachers, even though they are some of the most elusive animals in the world.
They live above 9,000 ft and are designed to survive in the coldest of temperatures. Snow leopards mainly live in mountainous regions in south and central Asia, but there are fewer of them than ever before. This has caused them to be classified as a vulnerable species; yet despite their stealthy skills, they’re still being hunted.
The hyacinth macaw is one of the most visually stunning birds on the planet, and they have proven to be very desirable for people. One reason why the hyacinth macaw is at threat of becoming extinct is because people love their color so much they want them as pets.
These birds are native to eastern and central South America, and people are going to great lengths to trap these macaws and sell them as pets. Because they live right in the Amazon rainforest, the macaws are also suffering from deforestation and losing a lot of the trees they call home.
The hammerhead shark is one of the most distinctive fish in the sea. Many people are aware of the hammerhead shark because they are so different from other fish, but this has made them a target. The scalloped hammerhead is a medium variety of the shark, and they are being hunted so often their numbers can’t sustain it.
There is a huge demand for shark fins, and that’s causing the number of hammerheads in the ocean to plummet. Overfishing is also another problem facing the scalloped hammerhead, and their population has been reduced by 95% over the past three decades.
The white-bellied pangolin is one of the most unusual creatures living on our planet. They look a little bit like anteaters, but there is one major difference between them, and that is the scales that the pangolin has on the outside.
They are found in lowland African regions, in the west and central areas mainly, but they are being hunted to extinction. From 1993 to 2008, their population was estimated to have declined by 25%. The main reason they are hunted so frequently is because they are thought to be a good source of bushmeat that’s sold in African markets.
The marine iguana does things a little differently to its lizard cousins. It’s one of a handful of lizards that actively swims and hunts for food in the sea. Because they spend so much time in the water, the lizard is known as the saltwater or sea iguana.
They only live in one place in the whole world, the Galapagos Islands. These islands found in Ecuador aren’t the largest and, because of this, conservationists regard the marine iguana as vulnerable to extinction. If their home gets any smaller, there is a chance the marine iguana won’t be able to survive.
Elephants are some of the most fascinating animals in the world thanks to the bonds they seem to share with each other and their brilliant intelligence. Over many years they have been the focus of hunters who shoot them just to get one thing from them.
Their tusks are made of ivory and people seem to think it’s worth shooting these animals for. Poachers come along and leave elephants to bleed out after cutting their tusks off, just so they can sell them. Thanks to these poachers, the population of elephants across the world have been seriously reduced... And all for money.
The green-winged macaw mostly lives in central South America and is in danger of becoming extinct very soon. They are sometimes known as the red-and-green macaw because of their colorful feathers, and they are the classic parrot. Green-winged macaws largely live in Argentina and are now critically endangered because of people.
Their numbers in the wild are so low because people feel the need to steal them from their habitat to sell them to the pet trade. There is also the issue of their environment getting smaller all the time due to deforestation, and their numbers are dangerously low now.
Golden snub-nosed monkey
Deep in the mountainous regions of southwestern China, you will find a monkey that seems to be from another era. The golden snub-nosed monkey lives in the mountains and feeds almost exclusively on old decrepit trees. Golden snub-nosed monkeys can be majestic when their fur shines in the sun.
They find lichen which grows on these trees, but the trees are being harvested by the Chinese, which means the golden snub-nosed monkey is losing its food supply. Golden snub-nosed monkeys are finding it harder and harder to survive in their natural habitat as their food sources begin to run out.
European honey bee
People are coming to realize just how important bees are for the world as they help to pollinate the plants which help us breathe. Without the bees plants would be more scarce, making the air less breathable for us and other animals.
The European honey bee is in danger of becoming extinct due to disease spreading among them and the number of pests that eat them. Hornets eat bees, and their presence across Europe is affecting their numbers. Others believe that the number of insecticides being used by some farmers is also causing the bee population to continue to fall.
It might seem obvious why the olm salamander is under threat of extinction; after all, they don’t have any eyes. That isn’t the reason though, and the olm salamander has no real need for eyes anyway. They live in caves where there is no light, so they have to rely on their amazing sense of smell and hearing.
Unfortunately, with that great sense of smell, the olm salamander might be noticing there’s something a little different in the water it lives in. Pollution of the underground water systems it lives in means this sightless creature is on the verge of becoming extinct.
The red panda is one cute animal, perhaps because they come across as very clumsy. They are related to the giant panda only by the fact that they both feast on a diet of bamboo. Red pandas are about the size of a domestic cat but have huge bushy tails that often cause them to be confused with raccoons.
They live in the eastern Himalayas, and there’s only around 10,000 left in their natural habitat. The reason they are in danger of becoming extinct is because they are losing their habitat, plus there is a dangerous level of inbreeding.