Africa boasts of being home to some of the rarest species of animals. The animals not only grace the parks and game reserves but greatly influence the continent's tourism industry. Tourists travel from the furthest areas of the world to view the animals, making them a source of pride for the continent. There is, however, a threat to the existence of the animals. How about pointing out the top extinct and endangered animals in South Africa?
South Africa is one of the African countries that takes pride in being home to some of the biggest national parks and game reserves. The parks are home to the most unique species of game. These animals hold a very important significance when it comes to holding the continent's cultural value.
This reason has made the country establish the root cause of extinction of some of these rare species and establish means of ensuring that the risk is as minimal as possible. Citizens have a role to play in making this directive effective. The first step is establishing the endangered animals in South Africa. Thereafter, one can take possible measures to ensure that they do not interfere with their existence.
List of the most endangered animals in South Africa
In adherence to the words of Albert Einstein, human beings should extend their circle of compassion and embrace all living creatures. As a part of embracing the creatures, ensuring that animals are not extinct is one of the ways. Before getting too far, it is prudent to get answers to the question: What is the most endangered animal in South Africa? This list will provide insight into the role of human beings on ensuring that the goal is achieved.
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If you thought that the only animals whose lives are endangered are elephants and rhinos, it should be brought to your attention that cheetahs are among the most endangered animals too. The main condition that has made them become an endangered species is the farmer-predator conflict that exists. According to statistics, most cheetahs have died as a result of being killed by farmers for making use of their long-footed nature to feed on cattle.
In a bid to curb the deaths of these precious creatures and ensure that they do not suffer extinction, organizations have come up to face the challenge by conserving the creatures in their habitats. One such organization is Cheetah Outreach in Somerset.
2. African Wild dog (painted dog)
The African wild dog is one of the most endangered species in South Africa. These creatures that were once among the most popular dog breeds in South Africa have drastically reduced in number. According to statistics, their population stands at less than five hundred. Their deaths occur as a result of them being ensnared by human beings as a result of a misconception about them that has existed for ages.
These killings have come to the attention of the government and several organizations. As a result, conservation measures have been put in place to ensure that the African painted dog does not go extinct. One such conservation has been established in Kruger National Park, where the creatures have been re-introduced into the park and their numbers are monitored to ensure that they population increase.
3. Riverine rabbit
The Riverine rabbit stands as the most endangered mammal in South Africa. Because of its nocturnal nature, it can only exist in the Karoo region. The creature only survives in the deep silt deposits of the Karoo river. Existence of these creatures has been threatened by the vulnerability of habitat loss that has been altered by human cultivation and livestock farming.
To counter the impact that is likely to cause the extinction of these creatures, the Endangered Wildlife Trust runs a programme called the riverine rabbit conservation programme in the areas that were once habitats to the precious creatures. The residents in the region are also being educated on the importance of taking part in conservation stewardship.
4. Golden Moles
Golden Moles are another rare species that South Africa is glad to be home to. The creatures have suffered the threat of extinction for the longest time. According to statistics, these creatures are among the top five South African animals that are at the verge of extinction. The main activities that are posing as a threat to their lives are mining and cultivation, especially in the country's grasslands.
The threat that has been mentioned is being countered in several ways, among them: the extensive research that is being carried out by the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria on the habitats and survival of the golden mole. Besides that, the government has also implemented a directive that ensures that these creatures are protected in the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, situated in the Northern province, and Kruger National Park, situated in Mpumalanga. To add to it, the Endangered Wildlife Trust is carrying out a programme: Threatened Grassland Species Programme whose aim is to conserve the habitat of these precious creatures.
Oribi is one of the most endangered species among the antelopes. This species is mostly found in the South African plains. The most fascinating thing about this animal is that it feeds on a specific type of grass, hence its existence in the South African plains. It is at risk of extinction because of threats of habitat loss as well as poaching.
To ensure that this species of antelopes still exists in the country, Endangered Wildlife Trust has formed a group called Oribi Working Group which focuses on conserving the habitats of these African animals.
6. African Penguin
The African penguin is another animal species that is at risk of being extinct. The animals are commonly known as the black-footed penguins and the threat of their existence was declared in 2010 after a 60% drop in their population was experienced. Commercial fishing is one of the practices that have become a threat to the creatures. Environmental factors have also tampered with their feeding. Oil spills and other human disturbances have also contributed to the reduced numbers in their population.
7. Black rhinos
The thought of black rhinos being killed makes one feel devastated. Their numbers have drastically dropped ever since the red flag regarding the threat of their extinction was pulled. These animals are facing threats of extinction as a result of rampant poaching that has been going on in the country. They have been killed with prospects of obtaining their horns which have been a commodity that has been traded in the international trade market for the long time.
As a move to help reduce the number of black rhinos that are being killed, the government has urged citizens to report any malicious acts on the field where these creatures could be.
Pangolins have suffered the dubious honours of being the most trafficked animal species in South Africa. The animal is illegally trafficked to Asia where its scales are used as medicine. Even though they tend to have a unique defence mechanism of rolling into a ball whenever they sense danger, human beings still manage to get at them and kill them. These creatures are among the most vulnerable South African animals that are facing threats of extinction.
9. White rhinos
White rhinos are another species that has suffered threats of extinction. The threats to reduce their numbers in the continent have been on for the longest time. In the 1960s there was a directive that was implemented that saw their number increase. This was a promising move that the trend would be positive until when poachers got at them and the numbers dropped drastically. The increased demand for rhino horns in the Asian market has caused the rates of poaching for these vulnerable creatures to increase.
All hope is not lost as there are efforts that have been put in place to ensure that the numbers of these precious creatures go up.
10. Pickersgill's Reedfrog
The Pickersgill’s reed frog is one of the South African frogs that is feared to be going extinct. The number of these South African frogs is going down especially in the coastline of KwaZulu - Natal which has for the longest time been home to them. These numbers have reduced due to coastal development, especially due to draining of the coastal water for agricultural purposes.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust is running the amphibian conservation programme whose aim is to try and salvage the reducing numbers of these rare species.
Endangered South African birds list
Besides the big animals, there are bird species whose existence has been threatened. These are examples of the birds that are facing the threat:
11. The Blue Crane
The Blue Crane, popularly known as the national bird of South Africa, is one of the most endangered bird species. The bird is facing this challenge due to human encroachment which has caused them to lose their habitats. They are also facing challenges due to poisoning, both directly and indirectly. Some of these birds have also collided with electric lines and died.
12. The South African bald ibis
If you thought the numbers of these birds was on the rise, you are wrong. These rare birds are at the verge of being extinct. Their population has been declared to be low due to degradation and loss of habitat.
13. Cape Gannet
These uniquely beautiful birds are adapted to the coastal regions of Africa. Since their distribution is mainly on the coastal regions, their breeding has been restricted rendering them vulnerable. Their vulnerability is as a result of over-exploitation of resources, especially due to human fisheries. Pollution is another practice that is posing as a challenge to their existence.
14. African black oystercatcher
The African black oystercatcher is the largest bird among the oystercatcher birds. Even though it lives in the rocky regions, it prefers to breed in the isolated islands and sandy beaches. It is vulnerable since its breeding is interfered with by natural predators that feed on its eggs.
15. Cape vulture
Most people overlook the importance of vultures and have set a negative connotation about them. Vultures have an environmental significance of cleaning up the environment by eating the food remnants left behind by predators. This move helps control the spread of diseases in the animal kingdom. Their extinction might have a significant impact on the animal kingdom.
These creatures are vulnerable, especially due to loss of habitat. Others face challenges such as collision with pylons and being electrocuted by cables.
16. Damara Tern
Damara Tern is one of the coastal birds that is common in South Africa's western coastline. These birds are facing challenges that might result in their extinction. The challenges result from coastal development, especially for mining.
17. Bearded vulture
The bearded vulture is another bird species that is facing fears of being extinct. The population of these birds is dropping drastically as a result of a reduction in the amount of food. Others have succumbed to collisions with electric lines.
18. Southern banded snake eagle
The southern banded snake eagle is another bird species that is at the verge of being extinct. The population of these birds is low. The low numbers are as a result of the loss of habitat that has resulted from agricultural practices and forestry.
Other South African animals that are facing threats of extinction
19. Albany adder
The Albany adder is one of the South African snakes that is facing threats of extinction. This snake is 30cm long and has a camouflaging tan and brown colour. The snake has become difficult to spot, especially after their habitats were destroyed in the Eastern Cape Province.
20. Knysna seahorse
This creature has the head of a horse and occurs in three estuaries in the country. These three estuaries are: Swartvlei, Keurbooms and Knysna. Unfortunately, one of these estuaries, Knysna, is being utilized for fishing, hence it poses a threat to the existence of these creatures challenging their survival.
Amid the saddening records depicting depletion in some of the animal species, there is an array of hope especially since the discovery of the unique spider South Africa. A discovery has been made regarding a new spider species in KwaZulu Natal.
These records of reduction in the numbers of endangered animals are quite devastating. The numbers are not only a reflection that so much has to be done in matters of conservation in South Africa to counter the threat that has been posed by this challenge. Details about these endangered animals in South Africa have also been provided in Afrikaans articles on animals.