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Monday
Jan152018

Top 5 Animals to See in 2018 Before They’re Extinct 

Flickr | cuatrok77You can probably guess what is triggering the extinction of many animals around the globe…It begins with C. Yes it’s the dreaded topic of Climate change. Though, it’s not the only trigger; deforestation and hunting come in close second. Since the beginning, humanity has discovered approximately 1.2 million species, however since then; Earth is only home to somewhat 8.7 million, with roughly 16,000 species threatened by extinction. Here are the top animals that you must see in 2018 before it’s the end of the road for them!

Amur Leopard

As famous as the Amur Leopard is, its fame is for the worst reason.  It is the most critically endangered animal in the world, as well as the rarest big cat with an alarming population of only 35 in the wild! It is home to northeastern China, the Korean peninsula and parts of Primorsky Krai in Russia, where it has lost its habitat due to urban development and wildfires, as well as being hunted and inbred.

It’s safe to say, the Amur Leopard have no luck in their natural habitat. Despite their impressive athletic abilities and running speed of 37mph, they still have minimal chances of survival due to a reduction in their gene pool, where the entire population is at risk of inbreeding depression. For future generations, the Amur Leopards will have poorer genes, making them less suited for survival.

Flickr | PROMike SeamonsWhat makes it worse is that political conservation efforts are poor. Russia abolished the state committee for Nature Conservation, cancelling anti-poaching law enforcements and the inspection of leopards and tigers in forests. This has led to an even more worrying reduction in numbers. Thankfully, a conservation campaign “ALTA” has combatted the neglect of the Nature Conservation committee, placing 200 Amur Leopards safely in captivity in Europe and North Africa.

Most, but not all of these captivated leopards are managed in conservation breeding programmes, so have excellent survival rates compared to their natural habitats. Check out your local zoo to see if they have taken in any of these leopards, or even visit Russia’s Lazovksy Nature Reserve and become an ‘ecotourist’ and explore the very few amazing Amur Leopards left in the wild.

Vaquita


You probably haven’t even heard of this marine mammal, no wonder it’s the world’s rarest! And yes, it’s on the brink of extinction.  You’ll find these species within Mexico’s Gulf of California, where their large dark rings round their eyes will catch your attention when they come close to the surface of the ocean. In fact, you’ll see most of them close to the shore in the Gulf’s shallow waters. This is the only place on earth you’ll see the Vaquita, as it’s already been wiped out in other oceans! Just as you thought the Amur Leopard had it bad, the Vaquita could be completely extinct by 2018! The fact that there are only 30 left in the world calls for immediate alarm and protection! Unfortunately, a reason why the majority of the population has been lost is because they get caught in the nets of illegal fishing operations and drown.

Fortunately, WWF have been trying to solve the issue between the Vaquita and the boat nets. They are trying to achieve the goal of a gillnet-free Upper Gulf of California, where the vaquita can thrive. Although WWF call the ban of gillnet fisheries, it is difficult to cooperate with the Mexican government to stamp out the illegal trade. A long-term strategy is urgently needed to save the last of the Vaquita’s with enforcement on the Mexican government.  

Flickr | Chris Johnson 

Sea Lions

Did you know that there are seven species of Sea Lions in the world? They all belong to a group of animals called pinnipeds. They are one of the most interesting mammals in the world, characterised by their extremely large bodies, intelligence and widespread habitat. Although found in oceans all around the world, interestingly enough you will never see a Sea Lion in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, but nobody knows why! Most of these species live in sub-arctic areas such around Alaska, while others live in warmer climates such as California.

Flickr | Alessandra GorleroSea Lions are very social animals and have a variety of methods of communicating; this is why you’ll see them in many zoos and animal conservation parks participating in tricks for entertainment. Their placement in such parks is probably for the best as their natural habitat is under threat from climate change. Changes in ocean currents are reducing the abundance of sea lions, so the future is unsure for them. Environmental concerns will continue to cause problems for them in their natural habitats, as humans are taking control over the waters where they once lived in peace. They are known for climbing onto boats to escape unfamiliar ocean temperatures; but their impressive weight sometimes causes boats to sink! However, even with conservation efforts in place, there is still a great deal of work to be done if these animals are going to survive.

There are several locations in California where you can come up close to a Sea Lion, all the way from San Francisco to Santa Maria. The Point Lobos State Park will lure you in with the sound of the barking Sea Lions echoing over the rocky headlands. What’s more is that they are present all year round, so there’s no best time of year to see them!

Flickr | California Marine Protected Areas-Underwater Parks
The Bornean Orangutan


We all know that orangutans are innocently cute, but did you know that this July their status changed to critically endangered due to a population decline of 60% since 1950. In fact, this figure gets worse, with predictions estimating their numbers to fall by another 22% by 2050, leaving very few left on planet Earth. Like that of the Amur leopards, the Bornean orangutans are threatened from habitat loss, specifically from deforestation and illegal hunting. Due to orangutans having the longest birth interval of six to eight years, reproduction is evidently very slow, thus making conservation efforts slow.

Its 2018, why not escape to the Bornean rainforest see an orangutan in its natural habitat before it’s too late! There are so many different wildlife tours where you can experience the best of Borneo’s wildlife. Why not volunteer on our very own Frontier ‘Malaysian Borneo Orangutan Encounter Project’  for a once in a lifetime opportunity! Experience two weeks as a zoo assistant, helping the local keepers improve the living conditions for Malaysia’s most endangered wildlife before flying into the rainforests of Borneo, overflowing with exotic wildlife including species as diverse as sun bears, pygmy elephants, and more importantly orangutans. At the same time, you’ll be visiting an orangutan orphanage and rehabilitation centre where you can see for yourself how much danger these species are in.

Flickr | ghatamos

Leatherback Turtles

You’ll be amazed how big these turtles are, they can grow up to an outstanding 7 feet and can weight up to 2000 pounds, being the largest turtles on Earth! So if you’re thinking ‘where can I see one?’ they are found in the tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, even in some areas of the Mediterranean. However, they can extend north as far as Alaska and as south as New Zealand, but not as abundant in these areas. A key fact to know about these species is that they are migratory, so tend to travel long distances, specifically those of the Eastern Pacific where they nest in Costa Rica and Mexico, then travel to both California and South America. They are somewhat adapted to travel as they have the ability to change their body temperature. This allows them to keep warm and survive even in the cooler waters they migrate to.

The Costa Rican nesting beaches are home to leatherback turtles. Why not head down to the Osa Peninsula which is the hotspot for sea turtles from September to March. This country offers travellers exceptional opportunities to view nesting turtles on the most pristine beaches in the world.

Flickr | Reiner Kraft
Although leatherback turtles are facing extinction, there’s still hope for them as they are listed as ‘vulnerable’ compared to the ‘critically endangered’ species mentioned above. The reason they are in danger falls purely to human impacts; nestling sites are disturbed through tourism and commercial development, whilst poachers harvest their eggs for foods. Plastic pollution came to our attention in 2017 and how dangerous such litter is to marine biodiversity; even David Attenborough captured the threat to turtles in the final episode of Blue planet II.  

Flickr | John
So there you have it, 5 must-see animals that probably won’t be around in 50 years!  There’s no time like the present, so start a new adventure to see the most endangered species before it’s too late!

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       By Sophia-Harri Nicholaou - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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