Endangered Species Day 2015

Endangered Species Day 2015

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 15th May 2015

Did you know that today, May 15th, was designated as 'Endangered Species Day'? With an emphasis to make known the plight of many at-risk and critically endangered species of flora and fauna, the day is integral in showing us how we can alter our behaviour in order to help to protect and save these species from extinction.

Sadly, extinction is a natural phenomenon that occurs at a natural "background" rate of between one to five species every year. But despite conservation efforts, scientists estimate species are disappearing between 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate – with dozens of animal and plant species going extinct every day.

A decade after 'Endangered Species Day' was first launched; conservationists are calling for more to be done to protect threatened species. Over 40% of the world's species are estimated to be at risk of extinction, primarily from human activities driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species and, as many argue, global warming.

Many of our projects at The Great Projects strive to counteract these terrifying statistics and help to increase numbers of a wide range of endangered animals. Below is a list of five critically endangered species which you can work towards rehabilitating with The Great Projects:

Orangutans - As one of our closest relatives, the orangutan (or 'man of the forest' as they are otherwise known) is one of the planet's most distinctive, iconic and beloved species of animal. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently only found deep within the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. The most arboreal of the great apes, there are sadly now thought to be less than 6,600 orangutans left within the island of Sumatra, and less than 54,000 in Malaysian Borneo. Currently, there are eight fantastic projects which are designed to help these magnificent apes, and volunteers are essential in accomplishing the overall goal of increasing numbers across both regions.


Mountain Gorillas - Similarly, in the stunning destination of Uganda, often referred to as the 'Pearl of Africa', another of the planet's most iconic species of primates resides: the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla. Sadly, only 880 individuals of this magnificent species are thought to remain; all within the foothills of the imposing and mystical Virunga Mountain Range. Volunteers on the award-winning 'Great Gorilla Project' are not only able to get up, close and personal with these magnificent apes in the jungle-clad hills of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, but they are also able to contribute to vital gorilla conservation initiatives in local communities.

Bengal Tiger - Shockingly, there are thought to be only 3,000 of these majestic predators left in the wild today, with populations completely decimated from the 100,000+ they were around a century ago. With habitat loss, human-tiger conflict and poaching for tiger parts a constant threat to these regal cats, experts argue that they run the risk of extinction within the next twenty years. This is a shocking statistic and something that responsible travel companies like us are trying to help counteract with conservation projects like the 'Great Tiger Project.'

Black and White Rhino - Perhaps one of Africa's most iconic creatures, the rhino (both of the black and white variety) is a must on any wildlife watchers tick list. Sadly however, these magnificent animals are becoming increasingly endangered. With white rhino populations only numbering 20,000 and black rhino numbers at an all-time low of around 5,000 - the issue is becoming critical.

In 2013, a record 1,004 rhinos were illegally poached in South Africa. Sadly, another 800+ were killed in 2014, and the number is still looking to drastically increase this year. The situation has reached crisis point, and it's clear that something needs to be done before it is too late. Many of our African based projects offer volunteers the chance to help assist in integral rhino conservation. To find out more, please click here.

Hawksbill Turtle - The critically endangered hawksbill turtle is a stark contrast to most other turtle varieties in terms of appearance. At only a maximum of 70 kilograms in weight, the hawksbills are much smaller than their counterparts. Renowned for their beautiful shells, sadly these turtles are becoming increasingly endangered due to poachers killing and trading them for their 'tortoise-shell' carapaces – utilised for hairbrushes and other such items. Get the chance to help in integral hawksbill turtle conservation at one of our most established projects: 'The Great Turtle Project.'

If you would like to find out more about working with any of the endangered species above and more, please don't hesitate to contact us via our website or via our email ([email protected]).


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