ENDANGERED SPECIES IN THE RAINFOREST
How And Why Are Rainforest Species Endangered?
Endangered species in the rainforest—how many are there, and why are they endangered?
The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is the organization that maintains the international Red List of Threatened Species—a roster of all the animals known to science that are in danger of vanishing from our planet. Consult the Red List and you will find the names of hundreds of endangered species in the rainforest—or, to put it more correctly, the IUCN lists hundreds of animal species that live in the world’s rain forests as either Critically Endangered, Endangered, Threatened, Near-Threatened, or Vulnerable. The critically endangered species in the rainforest are the ones that could go extinct at almost any time.
In addition to the officially endangered rain forest species that the IUCN keeps track of, there are probably thousands of unofficially endangered species in the rainforest. That’s because thousands of species of rainforest plants, insects, amphibians, birds and even reptiles and mammals have not even been discovered yet. Dozens of unknown rainforest species have probably already gone extinct without our even being aware of it!
Why are there so many endangered species in the rainforest? The reason is that the tropical rain forests themselves are endangered. Although rain forests comprise less than 6 percent of the earth’s surface, they are being cut down and burned at an alarming rate. According to one estimate, the amount of rainforest that is destroyed worldwide each year equals an area the size of New York State. People cut down rainforest trees for lumber, to use for making charcoal and to clear land in order to plant such crops as soybeans and oil-palm trees.
In addition to this habitat loss, endangered species in the rainforest must also contend with human hunters, who often kill them for their meat, their furs or feathers, and their body parts, which are used in some countries to make folk medicines.
Learn more about the many types of endangered species in the rainforest.