There are several threatened and endangered animals whose numbers have greatly decreased due to factors like poaching, trading in animal parts and most importantly, loss of habitat from deforestation and industrialisation. What are the natural habitats of these endangered animals, especially those of the most endangered?
The giant panda is the rarest member of the bear family and also one of the most endangered animals in the world. There are less than 2,500 mature giant pandas in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Federation. Giant pandas are solitary animals that spend most of their days feeding. They are found in thick bamboo and coniferous forests at high elevations. Their natural habitats are in the lowland and mountainous regions of Southwestern and Central-Western China. As China's economy grows the bamboo-eating giant panda faces a loss of its forest habitat due to the construction of roads and railways. The few remaining giant pandas in the wild are mainly located in the mountains of central China, in the Shaanxi, Sichuan and Gansu provinces.
Snow leopards are endangered with an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 left in the wild. They are exceedingly reclusive, even in their natural habitats, making it hard to get an accurate number to the few remaining. Their habitats are high, rugged mountains of Central Asia, India, Russia and Afghanistan. China makes up about 60 per cent of their habitat. Snow leopards prefer steep cliff areas, ravines and rocky outcrops that provide them with enough camouflage to ambush prey. Snow leopards are facing habitat loss from the effects of global warming, which is melting the snow in the high elevations on the mountain slopes.
The rhinoceros once roamed throughout Asia and Africa, but overhunting and loss of habitat has led to a rapid decline in their numbers.The loss of habitat is due to indiscriminate deforestation, industrialisation and the conversion of the natural habitat of rhinos to other uses like agriculture. There are five species of rhinos, two are found in Africa while three are found in Asia. The Sumatran, Javan and Indian rhinos are found in Asia while both the black and white rhinos are found in Africa. Rhino habitats range from dense forests to savannahs in subtropical and tropical regions.
Whale and Dolphins
Whales and dolphins live in marine habitats, while a few dolphin species, like the pink dolphins, live in freshwater habitats. Seven of the 13 great whale species are listed as endangered. Porpoises, whales and dolphins face an increasing number of challenges in their natural habitat due to collision with ships, entanglement in nets and other fishing gear, and hunting for the commercial market. Other dangers include toxic contamination, habitat degradation and the effects of climate change.