9 Critically Endangered Animals Whose Extinction Will Have Dire Consequences
Everything in the world plays into our Earth's ecosystem. Each species has a role in keeping our planet going - whether its bees who pollunate plants that enable fruit to grow or predators like the shark that keep other species from overpopulating. The world requires a delicate balance that keeps everything in check.
And sadly, there are several animals whose extinction could cause major problems. These animals are critically endangered, the last of the last, the dying breeds. Their deaths leave behind irreparable holes in the circle of life, where everything touches in order to move, like wheels on a pulley lifting unfathomable weights, reaching unimaginable heights.
What happens if it all just suddenly stops? You could wake up tomorrow without food, oxygen or housing. The sun could completely overheat the Earth. The jellyfish could overrun the waters. The waters could dry up and be no more. This is what will happen when endangered animals go extinct.
The consequences of endangered animals going extinct range from loss of life to lack of wealth to the depletion of Earth’s resources. The ecological impact of extinction of endangered animals could be devastating. Here’s an overview of some of the most endangered animals on the planet, those who are critically endangered. They face extinction today, but we need them around for tomorrow. Here’s what could happen if they die along with how likely it is that they will and why they’re at risk in the first place.
If Bees Go Extinct We Could Run Out Of FoodPhoto: Graham Wise / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.0
Much ado has been made of the dwindling honeybee population and for good reason, too. These bees pollinate the flowers and breathe life into the very crops that sustain our food chain and economic system. That said, the honeybee is just one of several bee species that currently stands at risk of extinction. Approximately seven wild bee species also need our protection. These bees sustain botanical growth in the island regions, specifically Hawaii, where they have recently been added to the list of endangered species.
While it may seem unlikely for bees to die out completely, the odds are against them as of late. New threats, such as foreign diseases being carried overseas as non native insects battle for survival against climate change, are popping up every day. Bees have been a staple of the food chain for over 250 million years. Their extinction would be detrimental and probably irreversible.
The Extinction Of The Sumatran Tiger Could Cut Off Our Oxygen SupplyPhoto: Steve Wilson / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.0
The Sumatran Rainforest and its preservation might seem like the least of your concerns when you look at the big picture. But if it goes - and the animals that live inside it - we might go too.
Without the Sumatran Rainforest, a very important resource will soon be depleted - oxygen. The forest creates an estimated 20 to 30 percent of our oxygen supply. The forest suffers from deforestation, and from its animal species that keep the forest ticking dying out. One of those is the Sumatran tiger.
There are currently less than 400 Sumatran tigers left on the planet. Without the large predator, the entire ecosystem of the forest is affected. Tigers are the biggest hunter in the forest, picking off smaller animals that feed off the nutrients in the forest. Without them, the forest is overharvested by animals and by people.
As the situation stands, the critical endangerment of several wild Sumatran animals has contributed to the current rising sea levels, haphazard weather patterns, and tropical disease infestations happening across the globe. Can the last remaining tigers truly take a stand in these conditions? Only if their habitat remains intact, claim conservationists.
If Large Moths Go Extinct, Our Whole Ecosystem Could Take A HitPhoto: Temple of Mara / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0
For years, scientists have studying moth populations status as a signal of a thriving environment. Scientists believe the amount of moths that populate our earth give a broader sense of how healthy the food supply is for smaller animals - like birds and bats - and how many pollinating insects are pollinating.
Scientists are worried that, much like bees, moths are experiencing hardship. That's because the large moth population just experienced a 40 percent decline with several incredibly important moths facing critical endangerment and other moths dying off completely. The list of already extinct moths includes the Bordered gothic moth, the Brighton wainscot moth, and the Orange Upperwing Moth to name a few.
On the bright side, some moth species are experiencing a population boom that just might save the planet after all. Though scientists suspect these moths are acclimating to the warmer temperatures.
The Possible Extinction Of The Amur Leopard Could Further Deplete Our Freshwater SupplyPhoto: Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Drought is a serious problem. Believe it or not, the extinction of some animals would only exacerbate the problem. The Amur leopard could serve to further deplete our freshwater supply. This majestic looking predator is being hunted for his lustrous coat which is identifiable by its pale, glossy appearance.
The survival of the forest’s ecosystem, particularly the deer population and abundance of freshwater, are protected by the claws of the Amur leopard. The leopard keeps the population of smaller animals in check, which creates a balance for how much water and food is being consumed. Today, there are approximately 60 Amur Leopards left on the face of the planet.
The Extinction Of The Sumatran Elephant Contributes To Violent Attacks On HumansPhoto: Midori / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 3.0
Deforestation on the Island of Sumatra has taken a serious toll on the Sumatran elephant species, whose population has dramatically decreased by 80 percent since the 1980s. Much of this deforestation is attributed to the palm and paper industries as well as the illegal ivory trade.
With the population drop, these animals have become a bit more defensive and some have even ventured into the outskirts of civilization, causing harm and occasionally even killing humans. The humans, feeling equally threatened and/or provoked, have been known to take down herds of elephants out of fear for their own lives.
This vicious cycle has left us with just three herds standing, two of which could possibly be revived. As such, extinction is a grave and very real threat, not just to the elephants, but also to the ecosystems of the forests wherein they dwell. Sadly, many of the animals who thrive off of these elephants’s existence are also endangered, meaning their extinction could cause a domino effect, wiping several other species off the face of the planet forever. Such animals include the Sumatran orangutan, the Sumatran rhinoceros, and the Sumatran tiger.
Jellyfish Could Dominate The Northern Gulf Of California If The Vaquita Go ExtinctPhoto: Paula Olson, NOAA / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
The Vaquita is a maritime wonder and there are only about 60 of them left in the entire world. Still, when it comes to maintaining the large ecosystem that is the Gulf of California, they’re doing their part by keeping the jellyfish population down. Gillnet fishing combined with pollution have caused the initial decline in abundance of the rare but special vaquita but now, with numbers dipping below the hundreds, their population could be subject to inbreeding depression, a consequence of dismal numbers that often results in weakening the species via biological fitness reduction.
If the vaquita go into extinction or if the species is weakened beyond repair, jellyfish (their main prey) could dominate the waters of the region, a red flag for any marine ecosystem, but especially a large one like that of the gulf. This twist would change the climate for pretty much every inhabitant in the gulf, including the sharks.