To conservationists, animals that came back from near extinction are like your favorite sports team scoring a much needed point at the last minute. They may not have Gatorade dumped on them, but the win means they're successful after many struggles and are safe for now. It's not just conservationists who should applaud these achievements since all creatures, even non-endangered animals, feel the ecological impacts of the extinction of an endangered species.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the worldwide organization that educates, researches, and advocates for animals threatened with endangerment. They have a "Red List" labeling system that puts threatened animals into categories from "Least Concern" to "Extinct." The world may have already lost the dodo bird, but there are many animals people think are endangered that actually aren't.
Whether people were mistaken about the facts or the animals were able to repopulate thanks to conservation, these creatures are all winners and will hopefully stay that way. Vote up the animals that you didn't realize are actually no longer endangered or were never even considered endangered.
In Asia, white rhino horn is thought to be a cure for numerous ailments. Due to the illegal poaching of rhino horns, the white rhinos of Africa were almost extinct at one point. Conservationists sprung into action to create more protected lands for the rhinos and worked to strengthen laws against poaching and selling rhino horns. The white rhino population has improved since these efforts and are now considered "near threatened."
It should be noted that only the population of southern white rhinos have bounced back. As of 2017, the white rhino subspecies to the north only has three members left, all of which are protected in captivity. The populations of other species of rhinos are dwindling, too, and all but the southern white rhino are considered critically endangered.
Although polar bears are being threatened by climate change and forced to deal with a shrinking habitat, they are not yet considered endangered. Their population is listed as "vulnerable," since in addition to losing their homes, they are also losing their food. Many populations of polar bears only live in the icy areas during the winter, but since climate changes are causing the ice to melt earlier each year during the warmer months and stay melted longer, polar bears are forced to stay on land where there is less food.
Shrinking habitat also leads some bears to wander closer to human territory, which is dangerous to both themselves and humans. Since polar bears live in such remote areas, their exact numbers are hard to count, but scientists believe the bears could very well be extinct by 2100 if action is not taken.
Although snow leopards are no longer considered endangered, they are still seen as "vulnerable." These big cats were added to the endangered list in 1972 with poaching partially to blame, since snow leopard bones are often made into various medicines and their patterned fur is used to make coats and other accessories.
Snow leopards have lost their homes and their prey due to human development and construction in the Asian mountain areas where they live.With nowhere to go and not much to eat, the cats often resort to attacking livestock for food, further angering humans. Climate change is causing their territories to grow smaller. Although it's believed there are at least 4,000 snow leopards currently living in the wild, without continued care, they could easily find themselves back on the endangered list.
Considered one of China's national treasures and the subject matter for many cute viral videos, giant pandas came off the endangered list in September 2016. Still considered "vulnerable," pandas were marked as "endangered" in 1990. As of 2014, around 1,850 giant pandas were found in the wild, but due to their remote and secluded lifestyle, that number may be inaccurate.
Conservation efforts included successfully fighting poaching and expanding the habitats of wild pandas. This resulted in setting aside land free of human development in 67 panda reserves across China. However, climate change threatens the food of the pandas by killing off the bamboo they need to survive. Conservationists warn to not get too comfortable with the pandas' removal from the list.