Vulnerable and vanishing forest fauna

The World's woods are teeming with incredible creatures. Sadly, many of the most of the powerful, fascinating, unique and beautiful are at risk of disappearing.

WHAT IS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES?

An endangered species is one that currently faces a high risk of extinction – dying out completely – in the wild. There are lots of reasons why animals become endangered or extinct. Sometimes this is a natural process. But in many cases, wild species face serious risks from human activity.

ORANGUTANS

Orangutans are native to the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra and spend most of their time hanging out in trees. They are one of the most intelligent primates, being able to use a variety of tools and communicate their feelings to humans through sign language. There are even some orangutans who can learn how to figure out a simple video game and play with each other. Their habitat is currently being destroyed due to palm oil farming and other deforestation practices.

BENGAL TIGER

The tiger is the largest of the cat family and is best known for its distinct stripes and strength. These carnivores hunt during the night and stalk their prey by lying low to the ground and stealthily creeping up on them before pouncing. Tigers’ stripes are just like human fingerprints, no two tigers have the same ones. The Bengal tiger has been poached to near extinction and is losing habitat due to deforestation and climate change.

THREE-TOED SLOTH

Native to the Central and South American rainforests, the three-toed sloth is the world’s slowest mammal. It spends most of its time hanging from tree limbs and munching leaves. Sloths stay so still for so long that they have been known to have moss grow on their fur. They sleep for 15–20 hours a day and love to swim.

SUMATRAN RHINOCEROS

This hairy rhino once roamed as far as the Himalayas, but now can only be found foraging on the Indonesian islands in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. It is much smaller than other rhinos, growing to be only 1-1.5m tall. With only 80 alive in the world today, the Sumatran rhino is one of our most critically endangered species.

POISON DART FROG

This colourful little frog can be found from the tropical forests of Brazil all the way to Costa Rica. There are about 100 different species of poison dart frogs, all with their own distinct colour patterns. One of the most poisonous creatures on Earth, each frog has enough poison to kill 10 grown men. Due to climate change and habitat loss, many of these brilliantly bright amphibians are losing their homes – and becoming endangered as a result.

AMUR LEOPARD

The Amur leopard lives in the forests of eastern Russia and it is one of the rarest big cats on Earth. Despite living in an incredibly cold climate, this big cat has enough energy and power to run at up to 60 km/h. In the 1970s, the population had fallen to less than 30 cats in the world, but now it has grown to include around 100 individuals. Hopefully, this number will grow and eventually the Amur leopard will move off the critically endangered list.

HOW DO WE PREVENT THEIR EXTINCTION?

Thankfully, there are lots of great organisations out there working hard to protect these and many other endangered species. If you want to learn more or maybe even get involved, here are a few sites to check out:

WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE

THE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY

PANTHERA

THE JANE GOODALL INSTITUTE AUSTRALIA

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