Conservation efforts aside, deforestation, industrial development, and climate change pose a major threat to some of the world’s most iconic animals. That said, humans may not be the only ones to blame. In fact, some wild animals are experiencing behavioral changes that could play a key role in their future disappearance (page 4).
Take a look at some of the most iconic animals that are going extinct, ahead.
Not all zebra species are endangered, but the Grevy’s zebra is in trouble. According to Grevy’s Zebra Trust, there are just over 2,500 of this species left in the wild.
Other types of endangered zebras include the Plains zebra and the Mountain zebra.
2. Wild horses
Believe it or not, some types of wild horses are going extinct. Przewalski’s horses — which are very similar to domestic horses — were once listed as extinct in the wild for nearly 30 years. Then, a survivor was found and the species was reintroduced in the wild.
While Przewalski’s horses still exist, there are very few left in the wild (about 50 altogether).
Surprised to see giraffes on the list? Us, too. While most giraffe species aren’t a concern, there is one type of giraffe that is: The Baringo giraffe. Also known as the Ugandan giraffe, this species is slowly disappearing in the wild. And, with only 450 individuals left, could face extinction.
With only three species left, elephants could be in serious danger. According to Deccan Chronicle, scientists have discovered that two of the three species left are no longer participating in interbreeding — something that is fairly common in related species, like elephants. Because of this, they could be in danger.
From ancient to living, interbreeding (aka, creating new genetic lineage) is a key factor in evolution and it is believed to help with adaptation to new habitats and different climates. Without interbreeding, elephants may not be able to adapt to their environments as well, and therefore face extinction.
Another surprising animal that may go extinct? Hummingbirds. The Mangrove hummingbird, Oaxaca hummingbird, and Chestnut-billed hummingbird, to be exact. All three species are believed to have less than 2,000 individuals left.
Dolphins may be one of the smartest animals on the planet, but that may not save them from going extinct. In fact, both the Ganges River dolphin and Indus River dolphin — two subspecies of the South Asian River dolphin — face extinction.
Fortunately, strong conservation efforts have been made to protect the less than 2,000 Ganges River dolphins and less than 1,000 Indus River dolphins left.
One camel species may also be in danger of extinction. The Bactrian camel lives in the Gobi Desert in Northwestern China and is currently facing a number of threats, including hunting, mining, genetic mixing with domestic camels, wolf predation, and industrial development. As a result, scientists are predicting a drastic decline in Bactrian camels by 2033.
8. Water buffalo
No thanks to habitat loss and hunting, wild water buffalos are on the decline. With at least half of the population lost, there are now only about 2,500 mature water buffalos living in the wild.
9. Pygmy hippos
Say it isn’t so! Pygmy hippos are also at a high risk of extinction. Known for their petite size and nocturnal ways, Pygmy hippos are nearing the end of existence thanks to deforestation, farming, human settlement, and more.
In 2017, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed the status of Bornean Orangutans from endangered to critically endangered because of a rapid decline in population (60% since 1950). And, it is believed that by 2025, those numbers will drop another 22%.
Not all leopards are in danger, but Amur leopards are disappearing at alarming rates. With only about 60 left in the wild (and 200 in captivity), Amur leopards are one of the most endangered cat species in the world.
12. Sea lions
While they’re not in critical danger yet, the Steller sea lion could face extinction in the future. Thanks to large declines in certain parts of the world — the Gulf of Alaska being one of the main areas of concern — conservationists fear these giant marine animals are on their way out.
Sought after for their horns — which are believed to have medicinal properties — black rhinos are in critical danger. In fact, the west African black rhino may already be extinct.
With only a couple hundred individuals left, the Chinese alligator also faces extinction. The smaller alligator species dwells in the wetlands of the Yangtze river in China — the same river that the critically endangered (and possibly extinct) Chinese river dolphin can be found — and is believed to have a population of only 150-200.
With only 120 individuals left, the Iberian lynx is the most endangered cat species in the world. And, while there are a few other cats on the IUCN’s list of endangered animals, if it does go extinct, if it does go extinct, it would be the first cat species to disappear in 2,000 years.