The animal kingdom is filled with millions of amazing species, ranging from the largest animal to ever have existed swimming in our oceans to insects that have formed societies every bit as sophisticated and complex as our own. But, the natural world is under threat, and several species have dwindled to a handful. Here are 5 of the rarest animals on the world...
When most people think of leopards they picture them prowling the Sahara’s of Africa or stalking deep in the jungles of India, but, few people realise that a handful of these majestic cats live in the frozen forests of Russia and China.
The Amur leopard lives in these harsh climates, enduring bitter temperatures that can drop to -40 degrees. Although, the greatest threat to the leopard’s survival doesn’t come from the elements. The Amur leopard has lost 80% of its former range due to deforestation, and the leopards are so ruthlessly hunted for their thick fur that today only 57 are thought to exist in Russia, making the Amur leopard the rarest big cat on the planet.
4Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat
Looking like a mixture of a pig and a badger the very peculiar (and very cute) Northern hairy- nosed wombat is, in fact, a type of marsupial, native to Australia.
The wombat once ranged across the continent, but, due to extensive habitat loss caused by farming, disease outbreaks and the arrival of feral dogs, the Northern hairy-nosed wombat can now only be found in one place in Australia, the Epping Forest National Park, where the last 250 Northern hairy-nosed wombats in existence reside.
Standing up to three feet tall with a five-foot wingspan, the giant ibis certainly lives up to its name. Despite its size, the giant ibis is one of the rarest birds in the world.
Living in the swamps and lakes of Northern Cambodia the giant ibis’ hunts for fish and insects in the water. But, with an estimated population of only 230, the giant ibis is suffering greatly from the drainage of its wetland home, as well as being hunted for its meat, feathers and eggs.
Dolphins and whales stir strong emotions in us; we marvel at their intelligence and their ability for compassion, and we admire their freedom as they traverse and play throughout the world’s oceans, so it might come as a surprise that a species of dolphin is one of the most threatened animals on earth.
Only five feet long and weighing around 94 pounds the vaquita is the smallest member of the whale and dolphin family. The vaquita lives in the waters around the Gulf of California, and it exists in small pods of two or three individuals, hunting for fish.
The vaquita population has unfortunately suffered a massive decline in recent years due to gillnet fishing being employed in their home range, with the little whales becoming tangled in the nets and drowning. A study found around 39 vaquitas a year die because of this. Also, the vaquita’s prey supply is being depleted by overfishing, and they have sometimes been killed accidentally in collisions with boats.
It is estimated there are only around 150 Vaquitas left in the ocean.
One of the rarest mammals on the earth the white-headed langur is a species of monkey native to the island of Cat Ba in Vietnam.
The langur’s population has been decimated through widespread habitat destruction. Its home island has become heavily industrialised and is now a popular tourist destination. Hunting by poachers who use the langur's meat and bones on the Chinese black market have also taken a significant toll. Currently, there are only 58 white-headed langurs on their home island, and scientists believe they could go extinct within 30 years.
It is important to remember that we are not the only species on the planet, and that as mankind’s population increases every decision we make impacts so many of our neighbours on our little planet, we here at Top5’s encourage everyone who reads this article to take a moment to consider looking into how you can help out our fellow species and make a difference!