This article originally appeared on Andres Manuel Olivares Miranda’s Medium profile on Dec. 8, 2017.
The Caribbean monk seal, Tasmanian tiger, and the black rhino are a few examples of the many animal species which have officially gone extinct as the result of human activity. Today, there are 10 animals on the list of endangered species that are on the brink of extinction if humans do not act quickly and change their ways.
Although China has imposed steep penalties on poaching giant pandas — the animals are coveted for their skin and fur — the destruction of their primary food source, bamboo, as the result of increased human development has led to food shortages and starvation which puts the species in jeopardy.
Across Asia, tigers are a target of poaching. Traditional Asian medicine believes that body parts from tigers have therapeutic properties, and the animals are also killed for their skins and so that their bodies can be displayed as trophies. Fewer than 4,000 tigers are left in the wild.
Breeding programs are trying hard to save these birds: their numbers have increased from just 29 living in the wild to 400 in recent years. Migration patterns are also affected due to climate change, and their numbers are dwindling yet again. Furthermore, severe poaching does not help their struggle for survival.
Whales become trapped in fishing nets dropped by humans, which cause them to starve to death. Additionally, commercial hunting slashed whale populations to 90% of its peak, and while whale hunting is banned in many parts of the world, their numbers have still not returned to their former heights as the result of pollution.
While poachers slaughter African Elephants for their tusks, they target Asian Elephants for their tusks, meat, and skin. Human development has led to the destruction of Asian Elephants’ habitats, and as result, they are trying to migrate to other more areas, but they have been unable to survive.
These marine mammals are threatened by pollution — particularly oil spills — and natural predators like the killer whale.
Fewer than 6,000 snow leopards are left in the wild, which is mainly because farmers kill them in order to protect livestock. Snow leopards are approaching more urban, developed areas as their food sources run out; in an effort not to starve to death, they are migrating to areas where food is more readily available, but they often die in the process.
Poaching for meat and for trophies as well as habitat encroachment are keeping gorillas on the endangered species list.
Disease wiped out over half of the population of Tasmanian devils. Cancer, brought on by human environmental pollution, is the leading cause of death in the species.
They may have the strongest cognitive skills in the animal kingdom, but orangutans have fallen victim to the exotic pet trade of South Asia, which leads to many deaths and precipitous drops in the population.