On this page you will learn about endangered species. You will learn what they are and where they live. In the "The Rarest," you will learn about some of the most unusual and most endangered.
These following endangered animals are the rarest species in the world. Before we can help them we have to learn how. If we all work together we can help most of the endangered species recover.
The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana is found on only one island in the Caribbean: the Grand Cayman Island. Blue iguanas eat flowers, leaves and fruit. They have been killed by people for food, had their nests destroyed by wild dogs and run over by cars. This iguana can grow to be four feet long and can weigh up to twenty pounds. They can live to be up to fifty years and they change a bright turquoise color during mating season. Sadly, there are fewer than twenty-five left.
The Yangtze River Dolphins or Baiji are freshwater dolphins that live in small groups along the Yangtze River in China. They have almost died out because of collisions with ships’ propellers and also pollution and construction on the river. They can grow to be eight feet long and can weigh up to five-hundred pounds. There are less than twenty left today.
The Giant Stick Insect was thought to be extinct when we stopped seeing them in 1918. Then a ship discovered them on a tiny island near the coast of the Lord Howe Island in Australia. While the rats from the ship attacked these six inch long insects some survived, and three of them were discovered on this tiny island.
The rarest animal in the whole world is the Abington Island Tortoise, nicknamed “Lonesome George.” This tortoise is probably the last one of his species. Abington Island Tortoises are big enough to ride on; the males can weigh up to five-hundred pounds and can grow to be up to four feet long!
The Rarest (cont.)
Endangered animals desperately need our help to survive, and one way we can help is by protecting the environment and not being wasteful. At school you can use both sides of the paper, and when you’re done recycle it, don’t just throw it away. You can also use one pencil at a time, and use it until it gets down to the eraser. Also, don’t litter, pick up trash. This will help cut down habitat destruction. Be creative! Use recyclables for art projects and things like that. Remember if you want to help the earth you have to think green, love your planet and be creative.
Jenkins, Steve. Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals. New York: Harper Collins, 2006.
Mountain Gorillas live in the lush forest high in the Virunga Mountains of Africa. A gorilla’s diet includes a variety of plants along with insects and worms. They spend much of their time eating it. For a long time, people encountering Gorillas have thought them evil because they engage in behavior such as chest pounding, roaring, charging, and baring their big teeth. Now that researchers have studied gorillas more, we have realized that gorillas are very peaceful, gentle, social and mainly vegetarian creatures. Any aggressive behavior is usually due to an adult protecting the family from a threat.
Typical groups of gorillas are led by a male, who is the biggest and strongest mature male gorilla. He is called the silverback because as he matures, the hair on his back goes from black to silvery gray. He will mature around the age of twelve.
A group normally consists of a couple adult males and a few females and their young. Mountain Gorilla groups often travel in a home range of up to 15 square miles.
Many lightweight gorillas make their beds or nests in trees out of bent branches and twigs. There they will sleep for the night and then move on. Gorillas that are heavier make their nests in the grassy areas on the ground. All of the babies have a place to sleep: curled up close with their mothers.
Mountain Gorillas are endangered and are threatened by humans who hunt them for food and trophies. Their forests are chopped down for farmland, fuel, and housing. Today, many scientists and park rangers, are working hard to protect Mountain Gorillas, and their habitats.
Hughes, Catherine. “Mountain Gorillas”. National Geographic Kids. 12 April 2009. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Animals/CreatureFeature/Panda
Giant Pandas live in the misty, rainy mountains of southwestern China. There are about 1,000 in the wild and while endangered, many believe that they can still be saved.
Giant Pandas eat mostly bamboo shoots and also the leaves, which are the most valuable part of the plant. Once in a while they will eat other vegetation along with fish or other small animals. Bamboo, however, is 99% of their diet, and they digest about one fifth of what they eat. Overall, bamboo is not very nutritious. To stay healthy, pandas have to eat a lot and fast, too. They have to eat up to 15% of their body weight in twelve hours.
Pandas have molars that are very broad and flat. This helps them crush the shoots, stems and the leaves that they eat. A panda's paws have enlarged wrist bones that act as thumbs for gripping. They use these special features for bringing food to their mouths.
Only a few of the many species of bamboo grow at the high altitudes where pandas live today. Pandas used to be able to move around from mountain top from mountain top in search for food. Pandas are very shy and won’t venture into populated areas, and now that the valleys are more populated by people, the pandas don’t have as large an eating habitat. As people continue to farm, log and live farther up the mountains, the panda’s habitat continues to shrink. Pandas may even starve to death because bamboo in one area dies out naturally and they can’t search for more.
If a mother panda has two babies, she might have to abandon one. They do that because it takes so much effort to care for one baby alone. Also, a mother must eat a very large amount of bamboo to feed herself and also nurse a baby.
Hughes, Catherine. “Giant Pandas”. National Geographic Kids. 12 April 2009. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Animals/CreatureFeature/Panda
Bengal tigers are a subspecies of tigers, typically found in India and Bangladesh. Lengthwise they can be up to ten feet, about a bit more than three meters. Also, usually they weigh up to 400 to 575 pounds, about 181.5 to 261 kilograms. They typically live to be 14 to 18 years. These tigers are also found in Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Tibet, all of which are in Asia. The Bengal subspecies is the national animal of Bangladesh, while at the species level, the tiger is the national animal of India.
Bengal tigers have been considered the second largest of subspecies after Siberian Tigers. They are of the most common tiger subspecies, living in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, sub-tropical and tropical rain forests wet and dry deciduous forests, and mangroves.
The Bengal tiger subspecies prefers to hunt large prey such as wild cattle. They have also been observed hunting and eating pigs, monkeys, birds and even snakes! In many of the places that Bengal tigers live, humans have caused loss of natural prey due to habitat destruction. Now domestic livestock is an ever increasing part of their diet. Some very hungry animals have been known to become "man-eaters" but this is really very rare. Of all of the five living subspecies, the Bengal tiger has the worst reputation as a "Man Eater!"
Wikipedia. “Bengal Tigers.” 16 April 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_tiger>
Lucky Ducks' House. “Bengal Tiger.” 16 April 2009. <http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/3785/bengaltiger.html> Indian Tiger. “Bengal Tigers.” 17 April 2009. <http://www.indiantiger.org/bengal-tigers/>
Black Rhinos are an endangered species. In the 1970’s alone, more than half of the world’s population of the black rhino is gone. Now, less than 15% still remains of the 1970’s population of black rhinos, about 10,000 worldwide.
Other rhinos have made wonderful comebacks, but the black rhino has not done so well. As recently as 1970, an estimated 65,000 black rhinos could be found throughout Africa. But in eastern Africa, 90 percent of them were killed in the 1970s. Now there are fewer than 2,500 left, in pockets in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, and Tanzania.
The black rhino grows to 14 feet long, stands over 4.5 feet at the shoulder, and weighs up to 3,900 pounds. The black rhino is an herbivore, meaning it only eats plants. It inhabits bush country with thick cover, grasslands, or open forest, where it roams on a wide variety of plants.
One of the main reasons for the endangerment of the black rhino is poaching for their horns. Hunters found out that they could get almost $50,000 for two black rhino horns, so they started hunting all of the black rhinos instead of having jobs as farmers and animal herders in their country. People used the rhino horns to carve dagger handles.
The countries where the black rhinos are endangered have come up with some ways to protect these animals. For one thing, they have made it illegal to trade rhino horns. In parks and protected areas, some conservationists saw off the rhino’s horns to protect them from being poached.
"Black Rhinos" Begheera. 17 April 2009. <http://www.bagheera.com/inthewild/van_anim_rhino.htm>.