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6 Critically Endangered Animals Under Threat of Extinction Due to Human Activity
The Amur leopard, also known as the Far East leopard, the Manchurian leopard or the Korean leopard, is a rare subspecies of leopard that lives in the Russian Far East. The Amur leopard suffers not so much from habitat loss as it does from prey scarcity. In China, the prey base is insufficient to sustain large populations of leopards and tigers. Agriculture and villages surround the forests where the leopards live, and as a result, the forests are relatively easy to access. This makes poaching a problem, not only for the leopards themselves, but also for important species on which they pre. Roe deer, sika deer and hare are all hunted by the surrounding villages for food and cash.
The Amur leopard is important ecologically, economically and culturally, and the conservation of its habitat benefits other species as well, including Amur tigers and deer.
During the colonization of Africa in the early 20th century, rhinos were considered vermin and were exterminated at all costs. The European hunters of that period are responsible for the early decline of black rhino populations. Habitat changes have also contributed to population declines, but not nearly as much as poaching. Rhinos are killed for their horns. Between 1970 and 1992, 96% of Africa’s remaining black rhinos were killed. To make matters worse, political instability and wars have greatly impeded rhino conservation work in Africa. A recent increase in poaching in South Africa threatens to erase any advances in conservation made in recent decades.
Rhinos are one of the oldest groups of mammals and are virtually living fossils. They play an important role in habitats throughout countries like Namibia. They are also an important source of income from ecotourism. Furthermore, the protection of black rhinos creates large blocks of land for conservation purposes, which benefit other species, including elephants.
The world’s small population of mountain gorillas is broken up into two groups: one group, comprised of a bit more than half of the total population, lives in the Virunga Mountains, a range of extinct volcanoes that border the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda; the other group can be found in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Since the discovery of the mountain gorilla in 1902, its population has endured years of war, hunting, habitat destruction and disease. More recent threats to the mountain gorilla include habitat loss, disease, charcoal making and poaching. Humans have moved into areas near mountain gorillas and destroyed their habitat for agriculture and livestock. When gorillas come into contact with humans, they become vulnerable to human disease, which they experience in more severe forms. For example, mountain gorillas can die from the common cold. And inside gorilla habitat, in Virunga National Park, people harvest charcoal for use as a fuel source in cooking and heating. This charcoal production, an illegal and multi-million dollar industry, has destroyed gorilla habitat. As far as poaching goes, thankfully, there is little to no direct targeting of mountain gorillas for bushmeat or pet trade, but they can be caught and harmed by snares set for other animals. Despite these ongoing threats, both groups of mountain gorillas have increased in numbers. The gorilla population has increased from 620 animals in 1989 to around 786 today.
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