The Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) is endemic to Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. This tree-dwelling primate grows to about 1.4 meters and 90 kilograms in males. Numbering to about 6,500 individuals remaining in the wild, Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered. Their dwindling population is due to habitat destruction and rampant pouching.
Luckily, the Indonesian government is doing all its best to protect this great ape species from becoming extinct. The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme is launched to address the issue. The program tackles all aspects related to Sumatran orangutan conservation including: researches, habitat conservation and protection as well as conservation education and awareness raising.
The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), is a species of rhinoceros, found in Africa. Adults average around four meters long, stands about 1 meter at the shoulder, and weigh up to 1770 kg. There are four subspecies of the black rhinoceros: South-central (Diceros bicornis minor), South-western (Diceros bicornis bicornis), East African (Diceros bicornis michaeli), and West African (Diceros bicornis longipes).
In the early 1990s, Black Rhinoceros population is estimated at around 65,000 individuals roaming the wild; however, their numbers gradually decrease to an alarming level during the later half of the 20th century. Today, all four species of rhinos are on the brink of extinction. Now there are fewer than 2,500 left in the wild.
On 7 July 2006, The World Conservation Union (IUCN) announced that the West African Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes), was put on the extinct list, with just 10 individuals recorded. Another species, the Northern White soon join the list as a few as 4 individuals is last noted. The Black Rhinoceros faces extinction due to habitat loss and illegal poaching for their horn. The rhino’s horn is used in folk medicine in China.
Recent conservation success has led to very gradual population increases due to the banning of cutting rhino’s horn. Add to this, the U.S. government has set up several Species Survival Plans (SSP’s) for four species of rhino. Task to attend for the species conservation are: The Los Angeles Zoo (greater one-horned Asian rhino), Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Park (Sumatran rhino), Zoological Park (white rhino), and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (black rhino).
The Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus) is a large even-toed hoofed mammal native to northwest China and Mongolia. This two-humped camel grows to about 300 cm in body length, stands about 180-230 cm at shoulder height and weighs 600-1000 kg. The IUCN (1996), placed the animal in its Red List of Threatened Species. While domesticated Bactrian camels numbers are estimated around 1.4 million, records showed that in October 2002, around 800 individuals roam the wild in northwest China and Mongolia. Their number is decreasing due to habitat loss and drought. These animals are also killed because they compete with other domestic livestock for food and water resources.
The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus), the world’s largest land carnivore, roam the Arctic ice sheets and swim in its surrounding seas. Also, the world’s largest bear, along with the Kodiak bear; adults average about 2.4–3 m in length and weigh around 350–680 kg. For decades, polar bear populations decline dramatically due to unrestricted hunting. In the early 1900s, this rampant illegal trade was put in check, thanks to the concerted efforts implemented by affected countries.
However, polar bear's survival, faces yet another huge challenge — climate change. The IUCN, United States Geological Survey and other polar bear biologists cited the impact of global warming as the major threat to polar bear's existence. Melting sea ice will result in habitat loss and can trigger malnutrition or starvation. Scientists predict that in 100 years, the polar bear will be a major attraction in museums!
The Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is yet another animal on the brink of extinction. There are about 720 animals remaining fighting for their survival. Mountain Gorilla’s are threatened by several factors including habitat loss, poaching, war and civil unrest and diseases. The world’s remaining mountain gorillas are now confined within four national parks, divided into two regions: Virungas and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
***If we want our grandchildren to see these five animals alive in their lifetime, then we MUST ACT NOW! in preserving them.