Africa is home to some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world, the continent is also blessed with an amazing array of wildlife.
Unfortunately, some of Africa’s most treasured animals are endangered and some are even on the brink of extinction.
Briefly.co.za has learned from Thesouthafrican.com that the reasons for the decline in the animal population vary from region to region and from species to species but some of the common problems are poaching, loss of habitat caused by climate change, genetic isolation and even road fatalities some cases.
We have compiled a list of the 10 most endangered species along with some interesting facts about each group.
1. African Elephant – Threat Status: Vulnerable. There are about 415 000 of these majestic animals left in the wild. Major threats to them include poaching, habitat loss and human incursion into their environments. They are classified into two subsets the larger savannah elephant and the smaller forest elephant.
2. Riverine Rabbit - Threat Status: Critically endangered. They are one of the rarest animals on the planet and live in the Karoo in South Africa. There are less than 250 of these animals left in the wild. Threats to them include habitat loss, accidental snaring, hunting and dog attacks.
3. Ethiopian Wolf – Threat Status: Endangered. Closely related to the Grey wolf, these animals are only found in Ethiopia. Estimates put their numbers at around 450. Threats to their survival include road deaths, climate change, genetic isolation, habitat loss and contracting rabies from domestic animals.
4. Black Rhino – Threat Status: Critically endangered. Distinguished from the white rhino by its prehensile upper lip. Experts estimate there are about 5000 of these animals left. Threats to their survival are poaching, hunting, civil unrest and habitat loss.
5. White Rhino – Threat Status: Near threatened. Unlike black rhino’s they have square lips, they are the second largest land animals on the planet. Their population is estimated to be around 20 000. Threats to their survival include poaching, civil unrest and hunting. Important to note is that the Northern White Rhino has been declared extinct in the wild and only three remain in captivity in Kenya.
6. Cheetah - Threat Status: Endangered. The fastest land animal on the planet, only about 7000 of them remain in the wild. Threats to their survival are poaching, hunting, habitat loss and cubs being stolen and sold as pets.
7. Mountain Gorilla - Threat Status: Critically endangered. Only about 880 of these magnificent creatures still live in the wild. Threats to their survival include hunting, habitat loss, illegal pet trade and diseases contracted from human contact.
8. African Penguin – Threat Status: Endangered. Africa’s only variety of penguins, population estimates are about 52 000. Threats to their survival include the illegal trade of penguin eggs, oil spills, food shortages and human contact.
9. African Wild Dog – Threat Status: Endangered. These animals “talk” to each other when they hunt and care for their young in what we would call a community. Experts estimate their population to be between 2000 – 5000. Threats to their survival include snaring, habitat loss, diseases contracted from domestic animals and isolated genes.
10. African White Backed Vulture – Threat Status: Critically endangered. 90% of their population in West Africa have been decimated leaving an estimated population of 270 000. Threats to their survival include their dietary habits, poaching and loss of habitat.
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