If you were asked to name some terrestrial wildlife right now, what would they be? An elephant? Tiger? Giraffe? Are you aware though that these common species are apparently a step closer to becoming ancient history in just a few decades; future generations will never get to meet them! Here is just a portion of the wildlife threatened by extinction.
The African Savanna Elephant
This iconic Savanna animal is now listed as an endangered species. They serve critical roles in ecosystems, economics, and collective imagination all around the world. Can you believe that the most recent reliable estimate of its continental population is only around 415,000?
The situation is becoming more and more severe with incidences of a widespread drop in African elephant populations. According to estimates, the population of African elephants has declined by more than 86 percent during the last 31 years, while the population of the African savanna or “bush” elephants have decreased by at least 60 percent over the last 50 years. The greatest threat to African elephants is poaching for the illegal ivory trade and habitat loss.
Many plant species’ seeds in central Africa require passage through an elephant’s digestive tract before they can germinate. Furthermore, it’s estimated that elephants are responsible for the seed dispersal of at least one-third of the tree species in central African forests.
The African Wild Donkey
As donkeys are so common globally today, it’s unfathomable to imagine a world where donkeys are endangered. However, there are now only 200 of them roaming freely in the Savanna!
The wild African donkey has almost been hunted to extinction for its meat. Parts of the animal’s body are also utilized for traditional African and Chinese medicines. The wild donkey reproduces at a reasonably slow rate; females don’t reach sexual maturity until they are 3 to 4 years old and they only have children every other year. As a result, poached animals taken cannot be promptly replaced leading to the dwindling of population numbers.
One of the main reasons this species is severely endangered, as is the case with so many other endangered species, is due to habitat loss. The African wild donkey has been forced out of areas where it had previously resided for hundreds of years by both cattle ranchers and dairy farmers looking to claim the grasslands for domestic cattle use.
The world’s fastest land mammal may now be endangered! Cheetahs are classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List because there are less than 7,000 adult and adolescent cheetahs living in the wild. The species has actually been threatened with extinction at least twice in the past, and it may face similar challenges in the future.
Cheetahs are under threat of extinction due to climate change, illegal hunting and habitat degradation. Their own genes can actually pose a threat to their survival. Like donkeys, cheetahs have a poor rate of reproductive success; with fewer offspring, the population cannot increase or adapt to environmental changes.
Illegal exotic pet trade is another cause for endangerment; for thousands of years, cheetahs have been kept as pets by some wealthy and elite members of society. Emperors, kings, and pharaohs have historically kept them as symbols of power. And unfortunately, this practice continues today, even among those external to high society (ahem.. The Tiger King?).
The Reticulated Giraffe
It’s easy to understand why this species is known as the Reticulated Giraffe since its rich orange-brown patches are clearly delineated by a network of stunning white lines that run the length of their legs. The giraffe is another iconic animal which every child around the world wishes to meet; however, are they aware that they are now sadly an endangered species?
In the 1980s, the total number of all giraffes in Africa was estimated at more than 155,000; today, the IUCN Red List estimates giraffes at less than 100,000 individuals. This is a drop of almost 30%! The reticulated giraffe population has been declining to only around 11,000 mature individuals left in the wild.
The causes of the loss include habitat degradation due to growing agriculture, human-wildlife conflict, civil turmoil, and poaching for their meat, pelts, and tails. Giraffes, which produce a considerable amount of meat, may be particularly appealing as a source of food to certain parts of the world. There are also indications that the trade-in giraffe meat is becoming more commercialized and that it’s being transferred to metropolitan areas.
Like elephants, giraffes are a part of Team Germination! Giraffes and Acacia trees are so inextricably linked that certain seedlings do not grow until they have passed through the giraffe’s digestive system!
We have seen how the loss of just one species can lead to the disequilibration of the whole ecosystem; whether big or small, you can do so many things to prevent this from happening! Wildchain is one of many innovative tools that can help reduce the decline of endangered species; when you become a digital conservationist, you adopt the Savanna wildlife to help conserve these unique species! Visit our website and follow social media for more game information.
Author: Kunthada Suwan
Editor: Yasmin Humble
Ice is a content creator intern at Wildchain. She sees that our arms reach all corners of the globe and an interconnected world that fuels increasingly complex challenges. As a Global Studies student, she passionate about ending global issues, especially ones related to human actions. Wildchain is a big step for her to inform people about global issues to watch while embracing awareness of wildlife and the environment.