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A Guide to Endangered Mammals

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 1/20/2011

Nearly 20% of the world’s mammals are on the endangered species list. As we humans are also mammals, and the only sentient mammals that exist, we are responsible for protecting the endangered mammals from the greed, hubris, and stupidity inherent in some homo sapiens. We are failing.

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    The Cost of Being the Boss –The Dubious History of Humans as Mammal Pack Leaders

    The list of endangered mammals and many other species roaming the world is long and woeful. Before we begin a comprehensive list, important considerations need to be addressed first. As populations of endangered species dwindle and eventually disappear from our planet, the world is left a poorer place on so many levels. The ecosystems and habitat that wild animals need to survive are shrinking due to human activity which in turn is pushing over a thousand mammal species to the brink of extinction. Losing these species is much more than just a sad state of affairs; it is a travesty that could lead to detrimental and even devastating consequences that we may not be able to fathom until it’s too late. We can hardly know which species might be the proverbial “canary in the coal mine" that marks some tipping point whereby all life on Earth is permanently altered in a bad way or even worse.

    Earth After all, it isn’t the animals that found it necessary to create the Dooms Day Clock as a result of the very real threat of nuclear annihilation. The point is, ecosystems are extremely fragile and depleted rain forests, dust bowls, and dead oceans could all take place just as surely as these endangered mammals and other creatures could become extinct. Among the many factors that lead to an animal being listed as endangered are loss of habitat, pollution, and illegal hunting, all the result of human activity which points to a wonton disregard for the other mammals that share this planet on the part of the human race. Our tendency for immediate gratification with little or no concern about the future will literally only get us so far before we wake up to find we made the endangered list ourselves.

    Animals kill to feed themselves; humans have a long history of facilitating destruction to feed their egos and their bank accounts. In the U.S. alone, 735 plants are endangered or threatened from various causes, including human activity and 496 animal species are in the same or similar status. More than 1000 species of animal around the world are endangered. So let’s get to the list of endangered mammals worldwide. Since there are over 1500 of them, we will only provide a good cross section here. A link to a complete list will be provided below. According to an article in National Geographic, one in four mammals is on a path to extinction. We are not without hope, many conservation groups have sprung up throughout the world to preserve and protect these threatened mammals. But as you’ll see from the following list, that task is rather daunting, so we must all do our part to help where we can.

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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    Asian Buffalo

    Asian Buffalo They are the largest member of the Bovini tribe, which includes African buffalo, bison, yak, and others. They used to roam freely but are now living in protected areas in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and a wildlife reserve in Thailand.

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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    Asian Elephant

    Asian Elephants Smaller than their relatives, the African elephants, Asian elephants roam in small herds to protect their young from predators. Due to habitat degradation, their numbers are dwindling.

    Image courtesy of

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    Blue Whale

    Blue Whales Being the largest mammal on the planet doesn’t include the distinction of being safe from extinction. Reduction in their numbers due to whaling, hit by vessels, and entangled in fishery operation equipment are just some of the reason why the Blue Whale became endangered. Without more concerted efforts across the world to preserve these magnificent creatures, those tails will go down into the sea and never come back up.

    Image courtesy of

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    Continuing on with our guide to endangered mammals throughout the world, specific species, their habitat, and what it is that's causing them to be placed on the endangered species list is discussed. In most cases, it's loss of habitat because of human activity or encroachment. Here, we'll discuss the Cheetah, Chinese River Dolphin, Chimpanzee, Florida Panther, Gray Wolf, Great One-Horned Rhinoceros, The Caspian Seal, and the Bactrian Camel. At the end of the article regarding the sad state of affairs for so many endangered mammals you'll be given links to find out what can be done to help.
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    Cheetah Being the fastest land animal on the planet won't help you outrun the list of endangered mammals as the Cheetah would tell you if she could. This cat is able to reach astounding speeds of 60 miles per hour with the long-legged, powerful body you see here that is built to close in on prey like no other. As you will learn by reading about the Asiatic Cheetah, a reduction of prey species, inbreeding, high-infant mortality rates, and of course; reduction of habitat are all factors sending this magnificent creature toward the brink of extinction.

    Image courtesy of

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    Chinese River Dolphin

    Chinese River Dolphins One of the rarest of all marine mammals, the Chinese River Dolphin, which has been known to grow as much as 600 pounds) lives only in the Yangtze River, and it's also closer to extinction than almost any other as well. As stated in Endangered Species: Chinese Dolphins, it is largely believed that this species is already extinct since an expedition in 2006 failed to find any.

    Image courtesy of

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    Chimpanzee Chimpanzees have helped explain a lot about the human race when studied in labs, and we've even sent a lucky few (maybe it just appears lucky from a human perspective) into outer space. But hunters and poachers who live by no codes of honor or decency continually diminish their numbers along with loss of the tropical rain forest and savannah habitats where they live.

    Image courtesy of

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    Florida Panther

    Florida Panther Since only a tiny area remains available to this feline due to human encroachment, there are only roughly 100 of them left in the wild. Fortunately, after reading the excellent piece, The Florida Panther Faces Extinction, you can learn how to actively participate in preventing such a tragedy.

    Image courtesy of

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    Gray Wolf

    Gray Wolf The largest member of the dog family was once hunted to near extinction and is still a contentious species due to its occasional preying on live stock and their ability to hunt together better than human hunters; which is always a bone of contention. It has recently straddled both sides of the endangered mammals list after having experienced a successful comeback in the American West.

    Image courtesy of

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    Great One-Horned Rhinoceros

    Rhino This Rhino of south Central Asia is in a perilous state due to non-native species of weeds and plants infiltrating its habitat. The weeds are spreading rapidly and killing off the native grasslands which the Rhinos depend upon for food. Endangered Rhinoceros Faces a New Threat explains more about the mysterious infiltration of foreign plants and what is being done about it to help Rhinos recover the habitat they need to survive.

    Image courtesy of

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    The Caspian Seal

    Caspian Seal Another marine mammal that is on the endangered species list, the Caspian Seal is the smallest member of the seal family, experienced a whopping 90% drop in terms of its numbers over the last century. Hunting, pollution, and the nets of commercial fishermen all contribute to its rapid decline as you'll find out in Dire Future for The Caspian Seal As Its Status is Upgraded to Endangered.

    Image courtesy of

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    Bactrian Camel

    Bactrian Camel This is the only remaining Old World camel left in the wild and it makes its home in the arid plains on the border between China and Mongolia. This two-humped beast has been equipped to handle temperatures ranging from - 20F to 100F. But hunting and competition with the dumbed-down domestic species grazing the same grasses has plummeted their numbers to less than 2000 left in the wild.

    Image courtesy of

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    And Many, Many More

    As stated earlier, there are far too many endangered mammals on the animals to highlight for the purposes of this article. For a complete listing, we'll direct you to the resources listed below which currently has the member of endangered mammals at 1,568. The references provide more detailed information and resources about what can be done to help to try and restore these species to healthy populations. The harmony of the earth is forever altered when these species go extinct because of us.

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    National Geographic: One in Four Mammals on Path to Extinction, Assessment Finds

    Earth's Endangered Creatures: Endangered Species Search by Groups Welcome to the Incredible World of Mammals