Endangered SpeciesUncategorized

Top 10 Endangered Species

What are the top 10 endangered species?

If only the answer were as easy as the question. If only conservationists and other people who cared about wildlife could ensure the richness and diversity of life on our planet by merely rolling up their sleeves and taking whatever steps necessary to save the ten most endangered animals. Unfortunately, Earth is currently in the middle of a massive crisis in which we are in immediate danger of losing hundreds of species of animals–mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, shellfish and insects.

Panda Eating. Top 10 Endangered Species
Panda Eating. Top 10 Endangered Species

Some conservation organizations do indeed keep top 10 endangered species and ten most endangered animals lists, and those lists have their uses. However, the lists that have the most value and that paint the most complete picture of the challenges to animal life on Earth contain the names of many more than a mere 10 endangered species.

Take, for instance, the US Fish & Wildlife Service list of endangered and threatened species in the United States. As of this writing, you will find listed 378 vertebrates, including 85 mammals, 90 birds, 25 amphibians and 138 fishes. Listed creatures range from a Hawaiian honeycreeper bird called the ‘O’o (Psittirostra psittacea) to the woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou).

On a global scale, any top 10 ten endangered species or ten most endangered animals list would leave out more than 95 percent of the species whose situations range from difficult to dire. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Resources) Red List of Threatened Species categorizes 1,141 mammals worldwide as either Extinct (EX), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critical (CR), Endangered (EN), or Vulnerable (VU). Bird species that fit one of those classifications number 1,222; reptiles 423; amphibians 1,905; crustaceans 305; and insects 424.

While some of animals on these extensive lists are more endangered than others, either by virtue of being fewer in number, more dependent on habitat that is quickly being destroyed, more affected by global climate change, or due to some other (usually human-related) factor, they all need help. They all need as much of our attention, energy and resources as we can give them.

Panda Image on the Rocks
Panda Image on the Rocks

And yet . . . it’s hard to keep all of them in mind at the same time, and that is the real reason for any top 10 list of endangered species. In order for us to get our minds around a problem as large as that of the potential for massive extinctions, we need to break that problem into smaller parts. Many conservation organizations name as their most endangered animals the particular creatures they happen to be working hardest to save during any given year. Their top ten endangered species lists not only help them to focus, but allow them to put a number of particularly appealing (animal or bird) faces on their appeals for public financial and political support. It’s no accident that the giant panda, perhaps the world’s most charismatic endangered species, ends up on so many lists of most endangered animals.

And there are more practical reasons for a top 10 endangered species list as well. For instance, in 2008, the Endangered Species Coalition, which concerns itself with the most endangered animals in the US, wisely chose to highlight not animals that were already listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), but those that the organization thought should be on the list. And for its next list, the group intends to use a species’ sensitivity to climate change as its main criterion for choosing its list of the ten most endangered animals.

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