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.
Since around the 1940s, synthetic pesticides were widely used to combat insects in order to preserve crops and help control insect-spread diseases like malaria. These pesticides also contained a chemical called DDT which worked quickly and effectively against insects, but also brought numerous other problems - such as almost wiping out bald eagles.
Thanks in part to Rachel Carson's 1962 book, Silent Spring, it was discovered that DDT caused the shells of birds' eggs to become too thin. This led to baby birds dying prematurely, "with populations plummeting more than 80 percent." By the time DDT was banned in 1972, the bald eagle population was quickly dwindling. However, they were able to bounce back and bald eagles were taken off the endangered animal list in 2007. Bald eagles are still protected by other laws aimed toward conservation such as the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Gray wolves were almost completely killed off at one point in time, due to settlers taking their land, eating their prey, and killing the wolves for interfering with livestock practices. Gray wolves were added to the endangered species list in 1974 and lots of time and money went into protection efforts in the 1990s to keep them from vanishing.
Thanks to new laws and programs transporting and releasing wolves in areas where they had become less populous, like Yellowstone and the Rocky Mountains, the gray wolf populations slowly grew back. Gray wolves are no longer considered endangered in the lower 48 states, and protection laws are set in place by each US state individually. A few states have even begun allowing the hunting of gray wolves again since populations have increased so much.
Southern White Rhinoceros
In Asia, white rhino horn is thought to be a cure for numerous ailments as well as a symbol of symbol. 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 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.