Species Profiles

Endangered Species

Species Profiles

Gorilla

  1. Species distribution.
    • The single species of gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) is divided into three subspecies. The subspecies G. g. gorilla is the western lowland gorilla found in Nigeria, Cameroon, parts of the Central African Republic, mainland Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Conga, and the extreme western tip of Zaire. The eastern lowland gorilla (G. g. graueri) is found in east-central Zaire. The mountain gorilla (G. g. beringei) is restricted to the six extinct volcanoes of the Virunga Range on the Zaire-Rwanda-Uganda border.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • Reasons for the gorillas' decline include habitat loss due to human encroachment (mostly for agriculture) and poaching for their hands, heads, and meat.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • Gorillas are classified as endangered by the Endangered Species Act and are on Appendix I of CITES. The eastern lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla are listed as endangered by the IUCN/World Conservation Union. The western lowland gorilla is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN/World Conservation Union.
    • The western lowland gorilla is part of an SSP program with 50 participating institutions, including Busch Gardens in Tampa. The gorilla SSP, the IUCN/World Conservation Union's SSC Primate Specialist Groups, the AZA, and IUDZG have joined to condemn any action which would increase demand for, and trade in, gorillas from Africa.
  4. GORILLA INFOBOOK

Asian Elephant

  1. Species distribution.
    • The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is found in isolated areas of India, continental southeast Asia, the Malay Peninsula, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Borneo, and the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal (off the coast of India). Depending on the geographic region, elephants can be found in a variety of habitats, from wet evergreen forests to dry thorn scrub.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • Probably less than 50,000 Asian elephants survive in the wild, plus approximately 15,000 in captivity. Because of their smaller tusk size, poaching of Asian elephants for ivory is not as prevalent as is poaching of African elephants. The decline of the Asian elephant has been mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Ironically, domesticated elephants are used to clear their own native habitat for human agriculture. Increasing human population growth and decreasing elephant habitat has led to a tragic conflict between humans and elephants over space and resources.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • Asian elephants are currently listed as endangered by the Endangered Species Act and the IUCN/World Conservation Union. They're also listed on Appendix I of CITES. The Asian elephant SSP currently has 50 participating institutions, including Busch Gardens in Tampa, and the species has successfully reproduced in captivity.
  4. ASIAN ELEPHANT ANIMAL BYTE

Black Rhinoceros

  1. Species distribution.
    • The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) was originally found in eastern and southern Africa and ranged as far north as Sudan and as far west as Nigeria. The black rhino's range continues to be rapidly reduced.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • About 90% of rhino deaths occur due to poaching for the rhino's horn. The horn is used to make dagger handles in North Uemen and to make traditional oriental medicines. In many Asian markets rhino horn sells for $16,535 to $22,046 per kilogram ($7,500-$10,000 per pound), well above the price of gold. The demand for rhino horn has grown so great that many antique rhino horn carvings are now ground and sold for medicinal purposes.

      Black rhino populations are being reduced at an alarming rate. In 1980, there were fewer than 15,000 animals-a reduction of over 50,000 animals in just 10 years. Today experts estimate the wild population at less than 2,400. There are approximately 200 black rhinos in zoological institutions.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • he black rhino is listed as endangered y the IUCN/World Conservation Union and the Endangered Species Act and is on Appendix I of CITES. With the dramatic reduction of the black rhino population in Zimbabwe, wildlife officials are now removing the black rhinos' horns. The IUCN/World Conservation Union and the WWF, along with other agencies, are preparing a conservation plan which emphasizes saving the remaining wild population and halting trade in rhino horn.
  4. BLACK RHINOCEROS ANIMAL BYTE

Amazon River Dolphin

  1. Species distribution.
    • The Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) is found in the world's largest river ecosystem, the vast Amazon and Orinoco basins. Experts recognize two subspecies, I. geoffrensis geoffrensis in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America and I. geoffreniss boliviensis in the upper Maderia river system of Bolivia.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • Scientists are concerned about the river dolphin because of ever-increasing environmental deterioration. Though some deliberate hunting of dolphins exists, the greatest direct threat to dolphins is accidental drowning in gill nets. Of equal importance are the indirect threats to their food supply, including overfishing, deforesting of the river-edge, agricultural polluting, paper milling and mining, and hydroelectric dam building. Hydroelectric dams reduce the number of fish species and isolate populations of dolphins.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • The Amazon river dolphin is currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN/World Conservation Union, and is on Appendix II of CITES.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

  1. Species distribution.
    • The Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi), believed to have once occurred throughout the Hawaiian islands, is now largely restricted to the small, rocky islands of northwest of Hawaii. The five major breeding sites are Kure Atoll, pearl and Hermes Reef, Lisianski Island, Laysan Island, and the French Frigate Shoals. They're also found on the Midway Islands, Maro Reef, Gardner Pinnacles, Necker Island, and Nihoa Island.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • NMFS estimates the monk seal populations to be slightly more than 1,000 individuals. The last official count was taken in 1988. The decline of the population probably started with the disturbance of breeding areas and predation by Polynesian settlers. Larger numbers of seals were eliminated by commercial sealing operatins, and by 1824, the species was considered extinct. Fortunately, individuals survived, but the population is still in danger. Human (naval base) operations on remote islands have caused a loss of quiet pupping beaches. Increased commercial fishing around monk seal-inhabited islands has led to competition between seals and humans for food. Seals have been found entangled in fishing nets, embedded with longline hooks, and possibly clubbed.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • The Hawaiian monk seal is classified as endangered by the Endangered Species Act, the IUCN/World Conservation Union, and is on Appendix I of CITES. The NMFS has established a recovery plan which includes the designation of critical monk seal habitat in ten areas of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a "head-start" project for pups on Kure Atoll, scheduled observations of breeding grounds, and stricter monitoring of interactions between seals and fishermen.

      Two other species of monk seal are also endangered. The Caribbean monk seal (M. tropicalis) which is probably extinct, and the Mediterranean monk eal (M. monachus) whose population is less than 500.
  4. MONK SEALS ANIMAL BYTE

Florida Manatee

  1. Species distribution.
    • The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). The Florida manatee's primary range is the Florida peninsula, but individuals can be found as far north as Virginia and as far west as Louisiana during warm summer months.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • The estimated population for the Florida manatee in 1992 indicated there may be as few as 2,000 animals. Tragically, manatee deaths are increasing each year. Since 1976, total deaths have risen an average of 5.3% each year. The majority of human-related deaths are caused by collisions with boats; boat divers can't see the camouflaged, slow-moving manatees to avoid accidents. Prenatal deaths (i.e. stillborn and newborn calves) are also quite high. The exact cause of these deaths isn't known. Other causes of death include disease and parasitism, exposure to cold weather, crushing in flood control structures and navigational locks, shooting by humans, and entanglement in fishing line and ropes.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • Florida manatees are listed as endangered by the Endangered Species Act, vulnerable by the IUCN/World Conservation Union, and on Appendix I of CITES. They're also protected under the MMPA and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.

      In most Florida counties manatees are also protected by boat speed laws and no-boat zones. Several institutions (permitted by the USFWS), including SeaWorld of Florida, are involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured or sick manatees.
  4. MANATEE INFOBOOK

Black-Footed Ferret

  1. Species distribution.
    • The shy, nocturnal black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) was once found throughout the Great Plains from Texas to Saskatchewan, Canada. Today, the only known wild population of ferrets can be found in Wyoming's Shirley Basin.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • In 1920, ferret numbers were estimated at 500,000. Their rapid decline resulted from human extermination of prairie dogs, their natural food source. The ferret was officially listed as an endangered species in 1967. By the 1970s there were fears that the ferret was extinct; however, in 1981, a ferret population estimated to contain 129 individuals found near Meeteetse, Wyoming. In 1985 the population drastically declined due to a prairie dog plague and canine distemper. By 1987, the surviving 18 ferrets were brought into captivity for a breeding program.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • The successful captive breeding program enabled 49 individuals, from a captive stock of approximately 300 ferrets, to be released in Shirley Basin, Wyoming in 1991. The reintroduction was successful: seven ferrets survived to the summer of 1992, and two had litters. Eighty more ferrets were released in the fall of 1992.

      The black-footed ferret is classified as endangered by the Endangered Species Act, the IUCN/World Conservation Union, and is on Appendix I of CITES.

Brown Pelican

  1. Species distribution.
    • The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is a marine bird that inhabits temperate and tropical coastal regions of North, Central , and South America. The species is divided into a number of subspecies, depending upon the region where they're found.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • In California during the 1960s, researchers began to notice a decline in the pelican population. A 1971-1975 survey revealed a declining population in the only remaining nesting colony of brown pelicans, located on Anacapa Island, California. The failure was due to the collapse of thin-shelled eggs during incubation. Thin-shelled eggs were attributed to the effects of agricultural pesticides, such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), in breeding adults. These long-lasting pesticides accumulated first in invertebrates and fishes, then in their predators.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • The brown pelican is listed as endangered by the Endangered Species Act over its entire range except for the U.S. Atlantic coast, Florida, and Alabama. As of 1971, the use of DDT for garden and household use was banned in California. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned most uses of DDT in the U.S. since 1972.
  4. BROWN PELICAN ANIMAL BYTE

California Condor

  1. Species distribution.
    • The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) once ranged throughout the coastal regions of North America, from British Columbia to Baja California, and from Florida to New York. By the 1800s the condors were restricted to the Pacific coast. Today they live only in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary in Southern California, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • California condors used to number in the thousands. By 1939 their numbers were estimated to be under 100, and by 1982 only 21 to 24 birds remained in the wild. Reasons for their decline include habitat loss, poaching, a low reproductive rate, electrocution by high-voltage wires, and poisoning by eating animal carcasses that contained lead.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • In 1981, the California Department of Fish and Game permitted the San Diego Zoological Society and the Los Angeles Zoo to breed condors. Chicks and eggs were first collected for the program, but due to continued threats to adults in the wild, all birds were captured by 1987. The breeding program has been successful, with over 50 birds now in captivity. Eight birds have been reintroduced into the Sespe Condor Sanctuary and future releases are being planned.

      The California condor is listed as endangered by the Endangered Species Act, the IUCN/World Conservation Union, and Appendix I of CITES.

Humboldt Penguin

  1. Species distribution.
    • The Humboldt, or Peruvian, penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) is found along the west coast and nearby islands of Chile and Peru.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • Human activity and its effects on the Humbolt penguin's nesting behavior contributed to the decline of the species. Since the 1850s, the nesting habitat of the Humbolt penguin has been destroyed because of quano harvesting for fertilizer. In the early 1960s the penguin population was estimated at 50,000. Today there are an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 breeding pairs in the wild, and 900 individuals in zoos and aquariums. Other contributing factors to the birds' decline are decreases in their food source (mainly anchovies) from overfishing, incidental captures in fishing nets, and petroleum pollution.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • Humboldts are listed on Appendix I of CITES and classified as "Insufficiently Known" by the IUCN/World Conservation Union. A Species Survival Plan has been established for Humboldt penguins, and SeaWorld of California is considered a "Participating Institution".
  4. PENGUIN INFOBOOK

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

  1. Species distribution.
    • The Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) is found throughout temperate and subtropical regions of the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic. It nests only in the Gulf of Mexico region, particularly the southern coast of Tamaulipas, Mexico, near Rancho Nuevo.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • The Kemp's ridley sea turtle is the most endangered species of sea turtle. Its population has fallen from an estimated 40,000 nesting females in 1947 to a population (averaged over the past 13 years) of slightly over 500 nesting females. Female Kemp's ridley sea turtles nest only once every two to three years. Since 1978, the number of nests have declined at a rate of about 14 nests per year.

      The most significant impacts on the turtles in earlier years were the taking of eggs, the slaughter of nesting females, and fishing for juveniles and adults. The major impacts on Kemp's ridley sea turtles today are incidental captures in commercial fishing nets, seines, and trawlers; waste products from oil operations; and ingestion of garbage - especially plastics.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • Since 1966, egg exploitation has been controlled, and in 1973 the Mexican government passed a complete ban on the fishing of Kemp's ridley, hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles in Mexican territorial waters. Presently, the capture of the Kemp's ridley is prohibited throughout its geographic range.

      The Kemp's ridley sea turtle has been listed as endangered by the United States Department of the Interior (USDI) since 1970. It's also listed as endangered by the IUCN/World conservation Union, the Endangered Species Act, and Appendix I of CITES. The Kemp's ridley recovery plan includes:
      • Regulations requiring U.S. commercial shrimpers to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on fishing nets. TEDs allow sea turtles to escape fishing nets to avoid drowning.
      • The protection of nesting beaches
      • Continued turtle research

      Currently, SeaWorld of Texas in San Antonio assists the U.S. government in caring for and providing a breeding facility for some of these turtles.

Chinook Salmon

  1. Species distribution.
    • Chinook, or king, salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) are found seasonally in various rivers along the Pacific coast of the United States and Canada. Salmon are anadromus, fishes that spend their adult lives at sea (in this case the Pacific Ocean), but return to fresh water to spawn (release eggs and sperm). They mature to adults in the ocean and return to their stream of origin to spawn.
  2. Reasons for endangerment.
    • The greatest impacts on chinook salmon populations are water management projects, such as hydroelectric dams. These projects alter water flow and hinder migration of both adults and juveniles. Pooling of water below dams or diversion of water for human purposes often make traditional spawning grounds no longer suitable and provide habitat for a number of non-traditional predators. Other factors that have contributed to the salmon's decline are poor water quality due to near-shore human activities, overfishing, inadequate regulations, and "genetic weakening" due to introductions of hatchery-raised salmon.
  3. Conservation efforts.
    • Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), populations of chinook salmon are considered separate "species" if they're reproductively isolated from other populations. Chinook salmon are divided into a number of distinct populations, three of which are listed as threatened by the USDI. Those listed include the Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon, the Snake River fall chinook salmon, and the Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon. The 10-point Winter-Run Restoration Plan for the Sacramento River regulates water flow from the Red Bluff Dam, fishing activities, and pollution.