This year, Endangered Species Day falls on the 20th May and it is a very important note in the yearly calendar. Endangered Species Day was created to help raise awareness of the problems animals all around the world are facing as they battle against extinction.
In a study by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, they concluded that as of September 2013 there were 457 animal species and 703 plant species classified as endangered. It is highly likely that this is number has since grown, but due to the elusive nature of certain species and the remote locations they live in, the number of endangered animals all around the world is very hard to judge. This is the reason why Endangered Species Day is so needed.
Here at The Great Projects we are all about helping volunteers make a difference to the world’s wildlife, so with that in mind let’s take a look at how the animals some of our projects are based around are faring.
The Orangutan projects we have here are always some of our most popular and it is clear to see why when you take a closer look at the incredible animals volunteers are helping. However, it is a travesty that these projects are even needed, but the reason they are is because orangutan numbers are in a shocking state of decline. It is estimated that there are only around 60,000 left in the wild, and without our help these already endangered animals could soon become extinct. Over the last 20 years these Great Apes have lost around 80% of their habitat thanks to palm oil and logging plantations, and when paired with the illegal pet trade these threats are likely to spell disaster for the Orangutans.
Great White Sharks
They may be famous the world over but did you know that there are only estimated to be around 3,500 Great White Sharks left in the wild? These incredible creatures are coming under increasing pressure from threats outside of their control, and if something is not done soon then the damage could become irreversible. The main threat Great White Shark is facing is from fishing nets which are intended for other marine creatures. They get caught up as bycatch and due to the boom in commercial fishing in the last 50 or so years, this is becoming more and more of a problem.
The land mass tigers once roamed was as vast as their population at the time, but after centuries of decline the tiger population is now only around 3,200 strong. Fortunately, after a lot of tough conservation work by the relevant authorities this number is now on the rise, but without these efforts continuing it could very easily go back the other way. Tigers have suffered from a variety of threats, but the biggest two have been habitat loss and illegal poaching and if these two man made problems continue at their current rate the tiger population could shrink further.
Western Lowland Gorillas
One of the most shocking animal statistics you are likely to see today is that over the last 20 years, gorilla numbers have fallen 77%, and one of the species worst affected is the Western Lowland Gorilla. The number of this species of gorilla alive in the wild today is unknown, but we do know that this number is very small. These impressive animals live in an area where the Ebola virus was at its most prominent, and this resulted in a large number of deaths. It is thought that is certain areas anywhere up to 80% of the Western Lowland Gorillas population was wiped out by this terrible virus.
Rhinos have been one of the creatures worst hit by human interference over the last couple of centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 500,000 rhinos across Asia and Africa. Now there are only 29,000 remaining in the wild today. These animals are poached for their horns, and if this awful practice continues to happen there will soon be no rhinos left to protect.
This is just a taster of some of how low numbers have got for animals all around the world and it helps to show just how badly Endangered Species Day is really needed. If we all join forces we can help, but things need to change. If you want to help make a difference to the lives of endangered animals then why not give us a call and together we can all make a difference.
Figures on animal populations in this piece came from the WWF website http://www.worldwildlife.org/ .
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Come face to face with one of the world’s most misunderstood predators whilst aiding great white shark conservation. As a volunteer, not only will you get the incredible opportunity to dive with sharks, but you will also assist the team in raising awareness of the great white as you work alongside tourists and local school children to provide them with knowledge of the local environment and the importance of living in harmony with South Africa’s marine life.
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