The Animals We May One Day Forget
With the Endangered Species Day being celebrated on 19 May, we take a look at the animal species considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. We’ve dedicated much of our lives to looking after rescued elephants and conserving a safe habitat for them and other wildlife. Living immersed in the wild, we feel the risk of losing so many animal species in the future. But it’s a risk that affects us all, around the world. Read below for more insight into why biodiversity matters and which species are currently endangered in South Africa.
Why Do We Need to Conserve Our Endangered Species?
Species loss threatens to reduce biodiversity, the presence of a variety of species in a given area, which is key to sustaining both local ecosystems and the global ecosystem more broadly. Biodiversity helps ensure that certain specific and necessary functions are carried out within an ecosystem — think about how pollination allows plants to flower and predators eliminate pests. Biodiversity ensures that if one species goes extinct or leaves a particular region, another is there to take its place. Ultimately, the collapse of ecosystems can lead to even bigger problems like the worsening of climate change, because of the increased release of carbon dioxide.time.com
Many species also play key cultural and economic roles that if lost would threaten local communities. Endangered bees play a key role in pollination for agriculture. Coral reefs play a key role maintaining coastal fisheries. African elephants attract tourists to sub-saharan Africa.time.com
10 Endangered Species in South Africa
- Elephants – Following population declines over several decades due to poaching for ivory and loss of habitat, the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana), found in South Africa, as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Black rhinoceros – Black rhinos remain critically endangered because of demand for rhino horns on the illegal international market, mainly in Asia, where rhino horn is used for traditional medicine, and increasingly as a status symbol to display success and wealth. Between 2008 and 2021, around 11,000 rhinos were poached in Africa. Source: WWF
- African wild dog or painted dog – threatened by human-wildlife conflict, such as snaring.
- Ongoye red squirrel
- Rendall’s serotine bat and short-eared trident bat
- Riverine rabbit – Critically endangered, found in the Karoo regions and is currently the most endangered mammal in South Africa. Its threats are habitat loss caused by agriculture
- Pickersgill’s reed frog – one of the most endangered amphibians in South Africa, endemic to the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal
- Knysna seahorse – found in three estuaries around South Africa, namely Knysna, Swartvlei, and Keurbooms. Its threats include the fishing industry, urban expansion and industrial developments.
- Golden Moles – some of the most endangered animals in South Africa; with five different species reaching the top ten most endangered mammals in the country.
- African penguins – the population has declined over 95% since pre-industrial times and the species is listed as endangered. Current estimates show the species will go extinct by 2026 if current climate change and human activity trends continue.
- Pangolin – There are eight species of pangolins, ranging from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered. The endangered pangolins in South Africa are the white-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) and giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea).
- Hooded vulture – one of the most endangered species in Africa – recently upgraded to Critically Endangered