The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a very rare leopard subspecies that lives only in the remote and snowy northern forests of eastern Russian’s Primorye region. Its former range included Korea and northern China, but the Amur leopard is now extinct in those countries. A 2007 census counted only 14-20 adult Amur leopards and 5-6 cubs. Threats facing the species include habitat loss due to logging, road building and encroaching civilization, poaching (illegal hunting) and global climate change.
The Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is the most endangered of the world’s five rhinoceros species, with an estimated 40-60 animals remaining on the western tip of the Island of Java (Indonesia) in Ujung Kulon National Park. The last member of another tiny population in Vietnam’s Cat Tien National Park was killed by poachers in 2011. The water- and swamp-loving Javan rhinoceros formerly ranged throughout Southeast Asia and Indonesia, but has been hunted to near-extinction for its horn, which is used to make Asian folk medicines. Although it is now protected, it may not have a large-enough breeding population to prevent the species from going extinct.
NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE
The most endangered of all the world’s whale species, the northern right whale (Eubalena glacialis) numbers around 350 individuals that travel the Atlantic coasts of Canada and the US. During the whaling days of the 19th century, the right whale got its name because whalers considered it the “right” whale to kill, as it not only was full of valuable whale oil, but it floated after it was dead, which made it easy to handle and process. As a result, it was driven to near extinction. Although the right whale is now protected, its small remnant population continues to suffer losses due to entanglements in commercial fishing gear: Whales drown after becoming wrapped in nets, lines and other equipment. Global climate change,...