World Wildlife Day: Five animals you may not know are endangered

Back in 2013, the UN declared 3 March to be World Wildlife Day. The day is about celebrating wildlife and raising awareness about endangered species.

We all know about the decline of the rhino population, but there are other species that are facing a very high risk of disappearing. They are three steps away from extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list is a comprehensive list of the conservation status of the world’s animals. Here is a list of some African animals that you may have not know were endangered.

1. Bonobo ape
This species of ape is one of our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom. Native to the rainforests of the Congo, these apes are led by a matriarch and have a highly complex social order. When a fight breaks out in the family, sex is used to calm everyone down – they’ve even been dubbed the “make love, not war” species – and psychologists are taking a great interest in what they could teach us about sexual relations. Illegal hunting, habitat degradation, and deforestation are driving this species close to critical endangerment.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

2. Grey Parrot or African Grey
The African Grey parrot is a bird that you would normally see behind the perspex enclosures in pet shops. They make excellent pets due to their high level of intelligence and can speak surprisingly well. But these beautiful birds are endangered in the wild thanks to the high demand in the animal trade and habitat destruction.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

3. Dwarf Karoo girdled lizard
Yes, reptiles matter! This lizard is found on rocky outcrops from the Karoo all the way to southern Namibia. Because of its heavy armour, the Karoo girdled lizard prefers to wait for its food to come to it. This species is endangered purely because of poaching by the pet trade. What makes matters worse for this sought after lizard is that it isn’t found in many regions across southern Africa.

Image via Peter Steyn for Arkive.org

4. African penguin
Also known as the jackass penguin, this species is found on Stony Point, Boulders Beach, and Robben Island. Moving through the water like a bird torpedo, they can reach speeds of up to 20 kilometres per hour. The population is experiencing a rapid decline due to overfishing, oil pollution, egg harvesting, and disease.

5. African wild dog
Also known as the African painted dog, are a very special breed. These animals form highly social groups that take care of and feed any sick, injured, or elderly family members. Wild dogs rarely ever come back from a hunt without a kill – they boast an 80% success rate, far ahead of the mighty lions who only get a kill 30% of the time. A combination of conflict with farmers, habitat destruction, and infectious diseases are causing this species to rapidly dwindle.

Image by Nikita Ramkissoon

A common theme is emerging when looking at what is causing the decline of these animals: humans. We’re pretty shitty when it comes to coexisting with the other animals on Earth. Conservation efforts are being made but we seriously need to reconsider how we share the playground with the other kids.

Featured image by Nikita Ramkissoon

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