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.
African elephants have long been hunted for the ivory in their tusks and were labeled as "threatened" in 1978. Bans on poaching and the sale of ivory were created, such as the African Elephant Conservation Act of 1988. This law, which is still in effect, makes the import of raw ivory into the US illegal with certain exceptions.
Technology is helping elephants as well, like the Elephant Trade Information System, which keeps records of the illegal sale of elephant parts in order to better track criminals. Habitat loss in Africa also affects the elephants, helping to keep their populations "vulnerable" and something to work on, before the last 415,000 disappear and African elephants become extinct.12141Does this surprise you?
When the Endangered Species Act was created in 1973, West Indian manatees were one of the first creatures to be placed on the list. Despite their name, this species of manatees lives mainly around Florida and the southern US coast. In 1991, it was discovered there were less than 1,300 manatees left in those waters and most were being killed by collisions with water vehicles, loss of habitat, and ingesting foreign objects such as litter or fish hooks.
Thanks to laws being enacted in Florida that conserved land and put speed limits on boats in certain areas, the population of these strange looking sea mammals recovered to more than 6,000 in 2016. Despite the endangered status of manatees being lowered from "endangered" to "threatened" in early 2017, they are still protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.12346Does this surprise you?
Narwhals may be one of nature's most unique looking creatures, but they're not quite endangered yet. Added to IUCN Red List in 2008, they are considered "near threatened" due to climate change and human interference. Melting ice has caused narwhals to lose some of their protection from weather and predators and has affected the populations of the smaller fish they prey upon.
The growing human need for oil and gas sends more ships through their territory, which also ends up disrupting the narwhals' lifestyle as well. Researchers are still learning about these strange looking creatures and how to protect them, as it would be a shame for them to become endangered.10143Does this surprise you?
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.11773Does this surprise you?