We live in a vast, complex world, where new species are being discovered all the time. Yet even as these exciting creatures are being discovered, the increasing human population, climate change, habitat destruction, hunting and the over-exploitation of wildlife mean countless numbers of animals that will go extinct soon — within a child’s lifetime.
Scientists have estimated that over the course of Earth’s history, anywhere between 1 and 4 billion species have existed.
The natural extinction rate (aka background rate) describes how fast plants, mammals, birds and insects would die off if humans weren’t in the picture. It is estimated that today species are disappearing at almost 1,000 times the natural rate, meaning we’re losing around 150-200 species every single day.
Check out these 30 animals that will likely go extinct before today’s children grow up.
1. Amur Leopard
The Amur Leopard, for example, sits high on this list.
Status: Critically endangered. Less than 70 amur leopards are alive today. The population has severely decreased as the leopard is hunted for its fur, and its natural habitat destroyed by humans.
2. Siberian Tiger
Status: Critically endangered. Siberian tigers are the world’s largest cats, and there are only around 400 to 500 left in the wild today.
3. Snow Leopard
Photo: andyworks, iStockStatus: Vulnerable. Humans are the sole predators of humans, from hunting to habitat loss, we are threatening their population numbers.
From far-off ferocious felines, here are some creatures not far from us…
4. Western Gorilla/Cross River Gorilla
Status: Critically Endangered. Extremely high levels of poaching and hunting have dwindled the population. By 2046, experts believe the Western Gorilla population will be reduced by more than 80 percent. There are two different main gorilla species with their own sub-species. One of the subspecies of Western Gorillas is the Cross River Gorilla — both are labeled as critically endangered.
5. Sumatran Orangutan
Status: Critically endangered. The population of Sumatran Orangutans have declined more than 80 percent in the last 75 years.
Photo: andyworks, iStock
Status: Endangered. Chimpanzees are human’s closest cousins, sharing 98% of our genes. Unfortunately, they have already gone extinct in four countries and are facing population drops everywhere they inhabit.
7. Black Spider Monkey
Photo: webguzs, iStock
Status: Vulnerable. Also known as the red-faced spider monkey, severe deforestation and hunting has challenged the species’ survival.
It’s not just small animals. Massive warrior animals are on the list as well…
8. Sumatran Elephant
Photo: Lethekings, iStock
Status: Critically endangered. Just in the past 25 years, the Sumatran Elephant has lost 70% of its habit. As of 2011, the Sumatran Elephant has an estimated population of less than 2000.
8. Polar Bear
Staus: Vulnerable. Climate change, loss of habitat and oil development have contributed to their decline. Some experts estimate that polar bears will be extinct within 100 years.
10. Black Rhino
Status: Critically endangered. Rhinos are one of the oldest groups of mammals, virtually living fossils. Unfortunately, there are only about 4,848 left on Earth. Three of the subspecies of Black Rhinos are now extinct.
There are lots of underwater creatures on the verge of extinction as well…
Status: Critically endangered. As of 2018, about 10 of the species are thought to exist, making it one of the rarest marine mammals in the world today.
12. Yangtze Finless Porpoise
Status: Critically endangered. With a population estimated to be 1,000 to 1,8000, the Yangtze Finless Porpoise is the last species of dolphin in Asia’s Yangtze River.