red list

7 Animal Species Getting Closer to Extinction

Originally Published on January 23rd, 2017

One of the biggest science stories of 2016 was that giraffes found their way onto the red list, and that people had somewhat been missing the signs of their endangerment all along.  However, it isn’t only the giraffe that needs the attention.  There are quite a few animals getting closer and closer to extinction.  This list doesn’t even cover everything.  There were also, reportedly, 13 new bird species discovered already declared extinct in 2016.



Why are reindeer numbers beginning to dwindle? Because of climate change.  The warmer temperatures in the arctic are making it impossible for the reindeer to get to their food.  As a result of the warmer temperatures, rain is falling and freezing over the already existing snow.  This causes the ground to freeze, making it more and more difficult for the reindeers to eat, thus resulting in their decreasing numbers.




We’ve known about this for a while, but the numbers only get worse.  According to a report by the Smithsonian magazine, there are roughly 7,100 individual cheetahs in the wild.  And that’s it.  The numbers of cheetahs plummeting is the result of habitat loss and hunting.


Ring-Tailed Lemur

By Alex Dunkel (Maky) - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

By Alex Dunkel (Maky) - Own work, CC BY 3.0,


The ring-tailed lemur’s population hit a huge downward spiral.  Apparently, the population dropped 95% in just 17 years!  This leaves the population at around 2000-2400 individuals, and sub-species have only about 30 individuals.  They’ve also lost much of their homes, vanishing from 15 different sites where they used to be common.


African Elephants


Though the numbers of African Elephants continue to dwindle for now (between 2007-14 the population decreased by 30%), there are steps being taken in the right direction for elephants, and rhinos, too.  If you missed it, China is ending the ivory trade by the end of 2017 (although other sources say it could take up to five years).  This is of course fantastic news for the animals, and hopefully, as a result, the numbers of elephants will start to go back up.

Bornean Orangutan


The ICUN put the Bornean Orangutan back onto the critically endangered list recently.  Their numbers have dropped 85% in the last 75 years.  This is due to the loss of their natural habitat, as people are removing the forest and wildfires spread in the area.




Indochinese Leopards


This beautiful creature has lost a lot of its range.  In fact, its range has dropped 94%.   The population seems to have dropped to around 400-1000 breeding adults.  Similarly to the giraffe situation, in which people focused on elephant numbers more and forgot about the giraffe, the leopards have been ignored because of the tigers that also are around the area.  As a result, this leopard is also going through a ‘silent extinction’.

Polar Bears


Once again, because of global warming, polar bear numbers are expected to drop a third in less than half a century’s time.  The population, at the moment, is only around 26,000.  A drop of a third of their population means that their numbers would go down to less than 9,000 individuals.


Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of She studies English and is a huge fan of things STEM.  Find her on Twitter.