An endangered animal is a species that is in danger of completely disappearing forever. Many of the animals on the endangered species list, and a number of those that are already extinct, have been killed off by humans in one way or another. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more than 500 animal species worldwide are listed as endangered. Some of these species risk extinction sooner than others.
Both the Asian and the African elephant are listed high on the endangered species list. Devastated by poachers who hunted them for their ivory tusks and facing severe habitat loss by urban development, the African and Asian elephant species are among of the most endangered species in the world.
Illegal hunting, infectious disease, the live pet trade and habitat loss have caused most of the great ape species to appear on the endangered animal list. Great apes such as the mountain gorilla, eastern lowland gorilla, bonobo, chimpanzee, Bornean orangutan and Sumatran orangutan are all facing extinction.
As with elephants, both African and Asian rhinos are facing extinction due to mass hunting and urban development. There are five different species of rhino, with the Javan, Indian and Sumatran rhinoceros native to Asia and the black and white rhinoceros native to Africa. Of the five species, three are listed as critically endangered.
One of the most well known endangered species in the world, the giant panda of China is one of the most threatened species on the planet. Habitat loss and urban development are one of the leading causes of this animal's decline, as well as poaching by hunters for its fur. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are fewer than 2,500 mature giant pandas remaining in the wild.
Whales and Dolphins
Hunting, collisions with ships and the threat of fishing nets and fishing gear have caused many species of dolphins and whales to be placed on the endangered species list. Some of these oceanic creatures, such as Western North Pacific gray whale, are critically endangered and facing extinction. Pollution and an increase in the fishing industry have further added to destruction by causing a decline in whale and dolphin feeding grounds. Just a few of the whales and dolphins facing extinction include the Sei whale, North Atlantic right whale, blue whale and Ganges river dolphin.
There are six subspecies of tiger that are some of the most threatened big cat species on the planet. All native to Asia, the Indochinese, Malayan, South China, Sumatran, Amur and Bengal tigers have all become endangered due to habitat loss and poaching.