Reptiles, amphibians and plants are some of the most endangered species in the world and get the least amount of attention. Why? Well, one of the reasons is because they’re just not very cute and cuddly. The poster-worthy, “awwwww” factor species tend to get the most attention, so, of course, they are at the top of conservation efforts. Species that are important commercially, are also the recipients of the most efforts from conservation groups.
While conservation groups are key to saving endangered species, it’s important to remember that you can make a difference, too. Learn about endangered species in your area, plant native plant species, and not using pesticides and herbicides that can pollute nearby lakes and streams and harm insects and plants are just a few of the many things you can do.
But, before you go off to research how you can help, take a look at these photos of 8 of the cutest endangered species:
1. Amur Leopards
The Amur Leopard is critically endangered with only 60 known animals left in the wild. It’s threatened by climate change, habitat destruction and poaching. This beautiful creature is also known as the Korean Leopard, Manchurian Leopard and Far East Leopard.
2. Mexican Axolotls
Another critically endangered species, the Mexican Axolotl can only be found in Lake Xochimilco near Mexico City. Fewer than 1200 Axolotls are left in the world today due to invasive species like carp and tilapia that have been introduced into the lake and draining of the lake to supply water to Mexico City. Roasted Axolotl is also considered a delicacy in Mexico. These odd-looking salamanders live out their entire lives in larval form.
3. Pygmy Hippos
Only about 1,000 of these adorable animals are alive in the wild today. While they may look like their larger cousins, pygmy hippos only grow to be about 2 and a half feet tall. They are hunted for trophies and food, but the biggest danger is loss of habitat through deforestation. Luckily, they breed very well in captivity.
4. Sand Cats
Sand Cats live in the deserts of central Asia and northern Africa and are the smallest wild cat in the world. Due to habitat destruction, these beautiful creatures went extinct in Israel. It’s not known exactly how many are left in the wild due to the vastness of their arid locations. They are threatened by hunting, habitat loss and the pet trade. But there is still hope. Recently, a litter of 4 kittens was born at the Zoological center of Tel Aviv.
5. Egyptian Tortoises
This fella may look grumpy, but I’m sure he’s sweet under that hard shell. Also critically endangered, the Egyptian Tortoise has gone extinct in Egypt due to loss of habitat. They can still be found in the wild in Libya, but the numbers are quickly declining due to the pet trade and hunting for use in folk medicine. Approximately 7,500 remain in the wild today.
6. Sea Otters
Due to hunting for the fur trade, the sea otter almost went extinct in the 20th century. Today, poaching, getting tangled in fishing nets and predators are all threats to this cute animal. But, oil spills are the biggest threat. The Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 killed approximately 2800 sea otters. The oil that continues to linger in the area affects the population to this very day.
7. Fennec Fox
Fennec foxes are native to the Middle East and North Africa where they are extensively hunted. Considered an Appendix II species, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora closely regulates their trade. Although they have not officially made the endangered species list, they are still considered a threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
8. Pileated Gibbons
Only about 47,000 of this species of gibbon can be found in the wild. Native to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, the Pileated Gibbon lives in trees and mates for life. They are threatened by habitat loss and hunting.