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White's Seahorse

(Hippocampus whitei)

Seahorses swim upright, and all their swimming power comes from a dorsal fin on their back, with steering provided by two tiny pectoral fins behind their head. They may not be very fast but they hover and maneuver very precisely! Seahorses are not great swimmers though, which is why they like to hang on to corals, seagrass and other objects which allows them to effortlessly float in the water. This also provides useful coverage to hide from predators and ambush prey. Their shape and ability to change colour make them masters at camouflage, with some seahorses being virtually indistinguishable from their favorite hiding places.

Amur leopard

(Panthera pardus orientalis)

Poached for their pelts, and facing habitat loss and degradation as a result of human development, these leopards face the risks involved in having a small gene pool. A lack of diversity leaves them more susceptible to disease, and with humans encroaching on their habitat, along with their pets and livestock, these are passed on all the more easily. Currently only about 3% of the Amur leopard’s historical range is occupied by wild populations, but the good news is that there is viable habitat that lies within protected areas that could support many more! Conservation efforts are working hard to secure this leopard’s future, and in doing so provide a better future for the whole ecosystem.

Yellow-eyed penguin

(Megadyptes antipodes)

The beautiful yellow-eyed penguin is the rarest penguin in the world. The IUCN recognises these birds as endangered due to a declining population and continued threats, both on and off shore. Introduced predators, and entanglement in fishing nets combined with decreasing habitat quantity and quality as a result of human activity mean that numbers of these penguins are dwindling. Work by penguin awareness programmes are working hard to turn around the negative effects of human interference and there is reason to believe that population numbers could rise as a result.

Southern Bluefin Tuna

(Thunnus maccoyii)

For this animal, extinction is around the corner. We harvest our food at an incredible rate and there may not be a better poster species to highlight this. Tuna are predators, essential in keeping populations of species down the trophic levels healthy – yet tuna populations are declining quicker than they can recover. Because of this, it is essential in helping to maintain the ecological balance in the marine ecosystem. Unfortunately, all known bluefin tuna species – the Southern bluefin tuna, the Atlantic bluefin tuna, and the Pacific bluefin tuna are today listed on the IUCN red list (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), with concern of their wild populations collapsing in the near future.

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I'iwi

Many native plant species that provided stable food sources for lots of forest birds started to decline with the arrival of settlers on the Hawai’ian archipelago. Humans altered the landscape and introduced invasive plant and animal species that greatly changed the native ecosystem. With humans came cattle, pigs, cats, rats, and mongoose which grazed on vegetation, preyed on wildlife, increased competition for food, and spread diseases. It is not only invasive wildlife that create threats for ecosystems – invasive plant species can decrease native plant biodiversity within the ecosystem, replacing vegetation that provides food and habitat for native wildlife.

 

When a species is introduced into an ecosystem it is not naturally part of, the consequences can be severe. While there is a chance the alien species may not thrive in the new environment, there is also chance of it causing huge environmental harm. If the new conditions for introduced species are favorable, it may allow it to easily reproduce and directly compete for resources with native species. With the absence of natural predators, populations of introduced species can explode and suppress those of native species. Having evolved in island isolation and therefore being less able to develop defense mechanisms, Hawai’ian birds were highly susceptible to the newly introduced threats. As a result, their numbers dropped rapidly.

Bald Eagle

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

No other species is as well known for its successful comeback than the bald eagle. Historically abundant throughout the continuous United States, the bald eagle increasingly became threatened due to the decline of its prey stock, as well as habitat degradation and destruction. Furthermore, the birds were not only killed for trophy hunting, but majorly feared to pose a threat towards human livestock, and as a consequence were illegally shot, trapped, and poisoned. Through their targeted removal, population numbers dwindled until they were federally protected in 1940 by the Bald Eagle Protection Act.

I'iwi

(Depranis coccinea)

The I’iwi is a bright red honeycreeper which was once one of the most common forest birds in Hawai’i, to which it is endemic. Historically, more than 50 honeycreeper species inhabited the Hawai’ian Islands. Of these, 17 are left today, of which 15 are listed as endangered. Having evolved from the same ancestor, by finding different niches, different species formed different behaviours and specialisms toward different food sources. This adaptive radiation can be seen in the bill morphology of the different species, which is influenced by what they eat – some feed on insects, some on fruit, and some on flower nectar.
 
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I'iwi

Many native plant species that provided stable food sources for lots of forest birds started to decline with the arrival of settlers on the Hawai’ian archipelago. Humans altered the landscape and introduced invasive plant and animal species that greatly changed the native ecosystem. With humans came cattle, pigs, cats, rats, and mongoose which grazed on vegetation, preyed on wildlife, increased competition for food, and spread diseases. It is not only invasive wildlife that create threats for ecosystems – invasive plant species can decrease native plant biodiversity within the ecosystem, replacing vegetation that provides food and habitat for native wildlife.

 

When a species is introduced into an ecosystem it is not naturally part of, the consequences can be severe. While there is a chance the alien species may not thrive in the new environment, there is also chance of it causing huge environmental harm. If the new conditions for introduced species are favorable, it may allow it to easily reproduce and directly compete for resources with native species. With the absence of natural predators, populations of introduced species can explode and suppress those of native species. Having evolved in island isolation and therefore being less able to develop defense mechanisms, Hawai’ian birds were highly susceptible to the newly introduced threats. As a result, their numbers dropped rapidly.

African Lion

(Panthera leo)

With an increase in human population, lions are not only losing their habitat but also face depleting prey numbers. This forces them into closer proximity to humans in their search for food and inevitably leads to an increase in human-wildlife conflict, resulting in a large number of these big cats being killed. Their majesty renders lions a sought-after target for trophy hunters, illegal poaching, and wildlife trade, all adding threat to their survival. 

Cross River gorilla

(Gorilla gorilla diehli)

When populations are isolated from each other, and migration between them therefore limited, inbreeding becomes more frequent and genetic diversity is lost as a result. When losing viable habitat, these primates are forced into closer proximity with humans, increasing not only human-wildlife conflict but also chances of disease transmission. Humans poach these magnificent animals for sport, and for their meat. They are eaten as bushmeat and are also believed to have medicinal and healing properties.

American painted lady

(Vanessa virginiensis)

While butterflies, just like moths, flies, wasps, beetles, birds and bats, are among the lesser known insect pollinators, they are highly essential for plant pollination, including crops we depend upon for food supply. In comparison to bees, due to their physiology, butterflies transport fewer amounts of pollen at a time, however also travel further for foraging. Hence, they enable plant reproduction and genetic plant diversity over longer distances. Therefore, butterflies help support the growth of healthy vegetation that in turn stabilizes ecosystems.

Green sea turtle

(Chelonia mydas)

Naturally feeding on sponges and algae, sea turtles are responsible for keeping ecosystems like coral reefs healthy, and therefore continuously provide habitat for other marine life. By grazing on seagrass beds, they increase the nutrient content and productivity of the seagrass and help avoid its overgrowth and decomposition. Predation by sea turtles on organisms such as crabs, small fish, shrimp, worms, jellyfish, and vegetation (in the case of the green turtle) helps to balance the populations of these species. Additionally, sea turtles facilitate nutrient cycling by burrowing their nests into terrestrial ecosystems. Many small marine organisms such as algae and barnacles attach themselves to the shells of sea turtles. 

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I'iwi

Many native plant species that provided stable food sources for lots of forest birds started to decline with the arrival of settlers on the Hawai’ian archipelago. Humans altered the landscape and introduced invasive plant and animal species that greatly changed the native ecosystem. With humans came cattle, pigs, cats, rats, and mongoose which grazed on vegetation, preyed on wildlife, increased competition for food, and spread diseases. It is not only invasive wildlife that create threats for ecosystems – invasive plant species can decrease native plant biodiversity within the ecosystem, replacing vegetation that provides food and habitat for native wildlife.

 

When a species is introduced into an ecosystem it is not naturally part of, the consequences can be severe. While there is a chance the alien species may not thrive in the new environment, there is also chance of it causing huge environmental harm. If the new conditions for introduced species are favorable, it may allow it to easily reproduce and directly compete for resources with native species. With the absence of natural predators, populations of introduced species can explode and suppress those of native species. Having evolved in island isolation and therefore being less able to develop defense mechanisms, Hawai’ian birds were highly susceptible to the newly introduced threats. As a result, their numbers dropped rapidly.

Red panda

(Ailurus fulgens)

The red panda’s habitat is only found within an incredibly narrow temperature range, meaning that the effects of climate change and global warming are forcing these animals higher and higher, into a smaller area of viable habitat. As human populations grow, needing space to live and land for resources, this area gets smaller and smaller. In addition to this, they are often accidentally caught in traps meant for other animals, and sometimes poached for their fur.

Giant devil ray

(Mobula mobular)

These beautiful rays are faced with many threats at once, one of them being oceanic pollution. Classified on the IUCN redlist as endangered, the worry for this species and other similar rays is that their populations aren’t able to recover due to a slow reproduction rate. They take a long time to reach sexual maturity, have long gestation periods, and usually give birth to a single pup, all of which are not conducive to a resilient population when faced with persistent threat.

Marvelous Spatuletail

(Loddigesia mirabilis)

This adorable hummingbird, endemic to Peru, is unfortunately considered endangered. The main threat to this species lies in the destruction of its habitat. Illegal hunting puts further pressure on their population, as the heart of the male spatuletale is sought after in the belief that it enhances sexual performance. I chose this species as the logo for “Art for the Endangered” as to me, it represents the cruelty that can sometimes be seen when engaging with topics surrounding wildlife conservation – specifically, when profiting from the most intrinsic and symbolic parts of any being.

Forest owlet

(Athene blewitti)

Owls are incredibly important predators within their ecosystems. Preying on many pests, they not only help to maintain the balance and workings of their habitat but are also invaluable for farmers who’s harvests benefit from the owl’s presence. Many aspects of an ecosystem can be affected by a decrease in species who play such an important role within it, and these effects can trickle down to consequences hard to predict. Thankfully the Indian forest owlet receives a substantial amount of interest from researchers and conservation initiatives, and hopefully this can put pressure on illegal activities that are harming this charming bird.

Grand Cayman Blue Iguana

(Cyclura lewisi)

Blue Iguana populations have been reduced to around 10 wild individuals in the early 2000s, this demise promoted a concentrated effort to repopulate. Individuals are bred in captivity and released once they are big enough not to be vulnerable to predators. Though they are only really found now in protected areas, their numbers are on the rise and have been downgraded from critically endangered to endangered by the IUCN. Over 700 are now said to be roaming viable habitats on Grand Cayman showing the remarkable turnaround possible with effective conservation strategies. Learn more about why this beautiful lizard became endangered.

African savanna elephant

(Loxodonta africana)

It is a well known fact that populations of elephants in Africa and Asia are declining – illegal killing of elephants for their tusks for trade on the ivory markets, and the never ending receding of habitat as human population and development increases, have brought elephant numbers to a heartbreakingly low level. Human-elephant conflict comes into play when they are forced to share habitat, and the effective management of this, along with anti-poaching programs and stricter enforcement of ivory trading restrictions must happen in order for these magnificent beings to thrive again.

Black rhino

(Diceros bicornis)

Through many protection and sanctuary programs, populations of both the black, and the southern white rhino have been able to turn around, with both of these population trends on the up. Though the future has looked bleak for many rhino species for many years, it is incredible that with effective protection, there may be a chance to revive some of these populations.

Black-bellied Pangolin

(Phataginus tetradactyla)

While they may not be able to defend themselves with their long claws, just like their tails, they enable them to climb, and provide easy access to ant and termite nests. Pangolins are an effective natural pest control when it comes to the insects they eat, which they do by poking their incredibly long and sticky tongue out to gather termites, ants, and larvae. The tongues actually can exceed the animals body lengths, being located along their last pair of ribs. During the feeding process, ants may crawl all over the animal’s face, which is why pangolins are able to not only close their nostrils, but also their ears when necessary.

Grey wolf

(Canis lupus)

Wolves have always been feared to pose a threat to human safety, as well as towards their livestock, were viewed as competitors for hunting game, traded for fur, and treated as a pest species. As a consequence, the Grey Wolf has been pushed out of most of its historic geographic range, having occupied large territories across the northern hemisphere. The decline of a key stone species, such as the wolf, can have wide-ranging effects for the health of the ecosystem. By stabilizing the size of their prey populations, they help keep the ecosystem in balance. Carcasses of their prey items bring nutrients back into the soil, and provide food for scavengers, including many bird species, as well as weasel, lynx, grizzly bears, and even beetles.

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