The world of conservation rightfully patted itself on the back with the news that Giant Pandas are no longer classified as an endangered species
The much-loved Giant Panda has gone from the classification of ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’ after years of conservation to work to encourage their numbers – according to an update to the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
The report applauded the efforts of the Chinese Government to protect what the country consider to be their national animal:
“Evidence from a series of range-wide national surveys indicate that the previous population decline has been arrested, and the population has started to increase
“Whereas the decision to down-list the Giant Panda to Vulnerable is a positive sign confirming that the Chinese government’s efforts to conserve this species are effective, it is critically important that these protective measures are continued and that emerging threats are addressed.
— WWF (@WWF) September 4, 2016
The World Widlife Fund (who use the Giant Panda as their organisation’s logo) have also welcomed the news, but the CEO of WWF China insisted that there was still work to do:
“Everyone should celebrate this achievement but pandas remain scattered and vulnerable, and much of their habitat is threatened by poorly-planned infrastructure projects – and remember: there are still only 1,864 left in the wild.”
The conservation of the Giant Panda population is a cause that has captured the hearts of the general public for decades – partly down to their cuddly appearance and placid bamboo-eating habits.
But spare a thought for the animals still endangered, who cannot rely on their looks to grab people’s attention – those species too ugly to be a company logo or a poster campaign.
Here are eight ‘vulnerable’, ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ animals that are unlikely to win any beauty contests.
With it’s squirrel-like body, monkey’s head and mad scientist hairdo, the buffy-headed marmoset is not as cuddly as some of his primate relatives – but has been consistently listed as ‘endangered’ since 1982.
The buffy-headed Marmoset is native to Brazil, but in the last report (2008) the population was said to have dropped to less than 2,500.
Although still relatively high in population across the Indian and Pacific Ocean, the Humphead Wrasse’s numbers have been dropping rapidly enough for the species to be deemed ‘endangered’.
Despite the trademark lump, the IUCN put this down to its marketability as a luxury fish, with traders selling them live for extremely high prices to the rich.
Indus River Dolphin
A slightly less handsome relative of Flipper, the Indus River Dolphins are under threat from being wiped out due to an irrigation system in their river home – which has left groups isolated as well as at risk of pollution from nearby communities.
Local fishers also see the River Dolphin as competition for fish and hunt them, despite it being banned.
Red Faced Spider Monkey
Dan Sloan / Flickr / CC
With their red skin, deep black eyes and Beatles-style furry fringes, there’s not much chance of a Red Faced Spider Monkey winning your love on looks alone.
However, this particular breed is currently seeing a sharp decrease in its population, leaving it ‘vulnerable’, according to WWF. The primate only breeds once every four years (on average) and Brazilian poachers hunt the spider monkeys due to their large size.
Galápagos Pink Land Iguana
There’s something disconcerting about the pink scaly skin of this particular Iguana, exclusive to the Galápagos Islands.
In 2012, there was believed to be just 192 of this rare breed left, put down to a combination of breeding with other iguanas, hunting from predators and even the population being hit by active volcanoes.
It may work for rhinos, lizards and even fictional unicorns, but it seems the addition of a horn to a bird is not a particularly comfortable (or cute) fit.
The Knobbed Hornbill is native to Indonesia and are considered ‘endangered’ due to the destruction of their natural habitat, which has caused a considerable drop in their population.
Talaud Fruit Bat
Whether you know them as ‘fruit bats’ or ‘flying foxes’ – there’s something slightly sinister about these megabats, with their enormous leathery wingspan.
Despite being common in some areas, this Indonesian species is currently under threat due to the fragmentation of its forest habitat and Talaud Fruit Bats are now incredibly difficult to find.
Derek Keats / Flickr / CC
An extremely daunting predator, whose bony body looks almost partially plucked already.
The Cape Vulture population is said to have dropped to under 10,000 as of 2013, with threats including poisoning, a food shortage and even accidental electrocution on power-lines.
Main image: Dan Sloan / Flickr / CC