Habitat destruction, climate change, pollution and exploitation are all contributing to the loss of the world’s animal population. “Protect our Species” is the theme of this year’s Earth Day, which is annually celebrated on the 22nd April. The photos below show some of those animals whose existence is threatened by human activity.
A Grizzly bear is pictured in the Canadian Rockies. Ahead of their 5 to 8 month long hibernation, these large omnivores stock up all manner of on food including berries, leaves, nuts, fish, fungi, small rodents, moose, elk, grass and even insects. It can take between 2 and 4 years before mothers wean their cubs off their milk. They are considered excellent diggers, skilled swimmers and can run at speeds of nearly 50km an hour. These bears are still found from Northern Manitoba and Nunavut west to the Pacific coast. However, the Canadian government considers the Grizzly population once found in Quebec and Labrador extinct as they have not been seen since 1948.
A Lesser yellowlegs is seen in Canada. This shore bird breeds in the boreal forest and winters farther south in shallow saltwater locations. It does not congregate in large numbers to migrate, instead remaining dispersed and solitary. Males and females work together to raise their young. The breeding population is in decline and the Canadian government is considering recognizing the bird as threatened.
This image shows a Monarch butterfly in Canada. These short lived insects migrate to Mexico each year, but no single butterfly completes the return journey. Instead four different generations are born throughout the year and each completes a segment of the round trip. They can fly at between 20km and 40km an hour, and make use of updrafts of warm air called thermals to rise high into the air and slowly glide down. This endangered species has been negatively impacted by herbicides, human disturbances, and predation.
A Northern leopard frog is photographed in Canada. Although these carnivorous frogs primarily eat crickets, flies, worms and smaller frogs, they are also known to eat birds and garter snakes. They can lay over 60,000 eggs in breeding ponds that can support their tadpoles. Starting in the 1970s the massive population of these frogs began declining. The suspected causes include pollution, water acidity, deforestation, habitat fragmentation, introduced fish, and disease.
Caribou, a type of reindeer, are considered a threatened species due to habitat loss and the impacts of roads, logging, mining, and other industrial disturbances. One subspecies, the woodland caribou, spans the Boreal Forest, although prior to industrial disturbance their range was almost double and extended south of the U.S. border where very few are found today. Their primary source of food is lichen found in mature forests. They are hunted by carnivores such as wolves and brown bears.
A Boreal owl sits on a tree branch. The acute hearing of these owls allows them to hunt small mammals who are hiding beneath vegetation and snow. Although these birds do not regularly migrate south, some years they do travel south of their breeding range in the winter, likely in search of more plentiful food. This nocturnal and unsociable bird is evasive and shy of humans, making it one of the species that humans know the least about.
Yellow-eyed penguins or hoiho, are penguins native to New Zealand, critically endangered and red listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Two white-capped albatrosses photographed courting in Auckland Islands. The white-capped albatross is critically endangered and red listed by the IUCN.
Southern rockhopper penguins pictured during courtship and nesting on Campbell Island. They are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN.
A Sumatran tiger is pictured at the Taman safari Park. In Indonesia, forest destruction for palm oil is pushing Sumatran tigers to the edge of extinction, with as few as 400 left in the wild. Companies must commit to zero deforestation and end their role in tiger habitat loss.
A critically endangered hawksbill turtle swims over the coral gardens at Kanawa Island near Flores, Indonesia. The island is located in the Komodo National Park.
A lion fish in the clear water of a coral atoll in the Maldives. The Maldives is one of the countries most seriously threatened by the effects of climate change like sea level rise and erosion. Its spectacular underwater world could also soon be under threat as reef corals are extremely sensitive to rise in sea water temperatures.
A polar bear is shaking off water. Polar bears are critically endangered and red listed by the IUCN.