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Wildlife is impacted by human activities the world over. WWF’s Living Planet Report demonstrates that our unsustainable demands on the planet are contributing to a dramatic decline in wildlife populations in the last 40 years. In Canada, human activities have pushed over 500 species close to extinction.
Species listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species – the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of species – face a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
Orangutan means “man of the forest” in the Malay language, and the species plays an important role in maintaining the health of the forest ecosystem. However, it is threatened by deforestation, hunting and the illegal pet trade. The orangutan is considered critically endangered by the IUCN and the population is predicted to decline by more than 80 per cent by 2060 if the current rate of decline continues. Today, they are only found on two islands: Borneo and Sumatra. Adopting an orangutan means helping to conserve its habitat and halt trading, as well as supporting other conservation projects.
Slightly larger than a domestic cat, the endangered red panda shares a number of characters with the giant panda but they are not related to each other (as opposed to common belief). Almost half its habitat is in the Eastern Himalayas. Poaching, along with a loss of nesting trees and bamboo, have led red panda populations to decline by 50 per cent in less than two decades. Adopting a red panda means helping to control deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade, as well as supporting other conservation projects.
A resident of our waters for 100 million years, sea turtles maintain the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs. Habitat loss, trade, bycatch and climate change are the major threats to their survival, and three turtle species (hawksbill, green, and Kemp’s Ridley) are endangered or critically endangered. Adopting a sea turtle means helping to control overharvesting, protect their habitat and minimize climate change impacts. It also means supporting other conservation projects that will help protect wildlife.
The snow leopard is known as ‘ghost of the mountains’ as very few people have seen them out in the wild. Their numbers have declined by over 20 per cent in less than 20 years, with as few as 4,000 left in the wild. Habitat fragmentation, retaliatory killings from local communities and climate change are some of the major threats to its survival. Adopting a snow leopard means helping support scientific studies and efforts to protect its range, prevent poaching and working with local communities to mitigate human snow leopard conflict. Your adoption may also support other vital conservation projects to help protect endangered species.
The largest of all Asian big cats, the tiger is one of the most revered animals. However, it is threatened by habitat loss, poaching, retributive killing and climate change. The good news is that the tiger range countries have pledged to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 and the measures to increase the tiger population are working: the number rose from 3,200 in 2010 to 3,890 in 2016. A lot remains to be done. Adopting a tiger means helping to protect its habitat and eliminate tiger trade, as well as supporting other conservation work to help protect endangered species.
Gibbons are among the world’s best acrobats—they have the longest arms (relative to body size) of all primates, moving through branches using only their forelimbs. They are also one of the most endangered ape species, threatened by loss of habitat, illegal wildlife trading and poaching. Adopting a gibbon means supporting initiatives to protect its habitat, eliminate poaching, and support other vital conservation projects.
Species listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species – the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of species – face a high risk of extinction in the wild.
A powerful icon of conservation, the giant panda is nevertheless one of the rarest bears. Its diet mainly consists of bamboo leaves, stems and shoots and they eat lots of it, as much as 9 to 20 kg each day, making the species vulnerable to loss of any bamboo habitat. Habitat loss and deforestation have destroyed over 50 per cent of bamboo forests that make up its home. There is some good news: in 2014, China reported a population of 1,864 wild pandas, a 17 per cent increase over the last decade. Adopting a giant panda means helping conserve its habitat and supporting other conservation projects in China and around the world.
The majestic hippopotamus is the third heaviest land mammal. Historically found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, it is now mostly confined to protected areas. Humans are building new settlements and increasing agricultural production in its habitat. Hippos are also threatened by hunting and poaching for their fat, meat and tusks. Adopting a hippo means helping to conserve its habitat, control poaching, and help protect other vulnerable species and habitats.
In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is made up of experts who evaluate and designate which species are at risk of disappearing from the wild in Canada.
Belugas are known as sea canaries for their range of vocalizations. Over 200,000 of them exist globally, and two-thirds of them summer in Canadian waters, primarily in the Arctic. Fewer than 900 remain in the St. Lawrence Estuary, where the population is listed as endangered. Contamination, noise pollution, habitat destruction and climate change are the key threats to their survival. Adopting a beluga means supporting work to identify the sources of contamination in their diet, their critical habitat, impacts of ocean noise on their behavior and support community-monitoring projects and satellite tagging research, as well as other conservation work.
Caribou, also known as reindeer, are easily recognized by their tall and flat antlers. Once one of Canada’s most iconic and widespread wildlife species, most northern caribou populations are in steep decline, up to 95 per cent for some herds. The Peary caribou subspecies is designated as Threatened. Climate change and mining operations on their calving grounds are the biggest threats to their survival. Adopting a caribou means supporting work like the protection of caribou calving areas and population status research, as well as northern community conservation initiatives.
Orcas can be found in all three of Canada’s oceans. The Northeast Pacific southern resident population found in the Salish Sea of British Columbia is endangered. Orcas live in pods, each pod using its own sounds and dialects to communicate. This clever species is severely affected by shipping activities, water contaminants and noise. Adopting an orca means supporting efforts to reduce ocean noise and protect their habitat, and other conservation work.
The largest bear species in the world, the polar bear’s Latin name means “sea bear.” There are approximately 26,000 polar bears in the wild, and two-thirds of them live in Canada. Polar bears need sea ice and snow to access their food and habitat. Climate change and increased industrial activity are the biggest threats to their survival. Adopting a polar bear means supporting efforts like implementing polar bear monitoring programs and protecting key denning areas, as well as polar bear conservation research programs.