Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus)
The Iberian lynx is a critically endangered species native to the Iberian Peninsula. They previously ranged across wide areas of Spain and Portugal but are now limited to small isolated areas in Southern Spain. Their populations have significantly shrunk in recent years due mainly to the decline of rabbits, their main prey, which are dying from myxomatosis, a virus. There are only between 84 and 143 individuals left in the wild.
The Iberian lynx is smaller than its relative, the European lynx. They were previously thought to be the same species, but genetic and morphological data was used to prove that they are two distinct species. The lynx are extremely shy animals and generally live alone in territories of up to 20km2.
Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Leatherback sea turtles are a critically endangered species of marine reptile. Due to a variety of factors, the worldwide population of female leatherbacks has declined by 70% over just one generation. The main causes of this drastic decline are thought to be over harvesting of their eggs, and accidental capture in fishing nets. Both legal harvesting and illegal poaching of the sea turtles eggs has led to the removal of 95% of the clutches in some areas such as Malaysia.
The leatherback sea turtle is the largest turtles in the world, reaching at least 6 feet long on average, and weighing in at around 2,000 pounds. They feed mainly on jellyfish and have backwards facing spines in their mouth and throat to keep their prey from slipping back out of their mouths.
Okapi (Okapi johnstoni)
Okapis are secretive herbivores that inhabit the rain forests of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Their stripes give them such effective camouflage in the depths of the jungle that they were only discovered and officially recognized as a species in 1900.
Okapis are the only living close relatives of the giraffe. They have similar characteristics, such as their long necks and massive tongues. Okapis have large, dark tongues that are long enough to lick their eyes and ears. They use their prehensile tongues to strip and eat healthy young buds and leaves from the brush in their habitats.
Aardwolf (Proteles cristata)
The aardwolf is a relatively small insectivorous animal, native to areas of east and southern Africa. They are closely related to hyenas and have the same characteristic slope to their back as their hind legs and shorter than their forelegs. They are not endangered and are actually relatively numerous and live in various protected areas in their range. To maintain their numbers, their habitat must continue to be protected from urbanization and expansion of farm land.
Their name means “earth-wolf” in Afrikaans, probably due to the fact that they sleep in underground burrows during the day. At night, they use their long sticky tongues to feed on termites and other insects. They are careful not to over-harvest or destroy the termite mounds so that they can continue to feed from them over time.
Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)
The giant otters is an endangered species found in South America, and the majority of the animals are found in the Brazilian Amazon, giving them their other common name, the giant Brazilian otter. They were previously heavily hunted for their pelts, and while this continues in some regions, it is not the primary concern for their populations. They are hunted by logging workers and fishermen because they deplete fish populations, while they lose their prey due to overfishing. Habitat loss in another serious concern, as well as the transmission of canine diseases.
At 6 feet long, they are the largest otter species in the world. Using their impressive size and ferocity, they have been known to take on Amazonian predators such as caiman and anacondas.
Foxface Rabbitfish (Siganus vulpinus)
The foxface rabbitfish is a coral reef species that ranges across the reefs of the Western Pacific. They can be identified by their bright yellow color and tapered snout, characteristic of rabbitfish. They are found either alone or in pairs, and once paired it is thought that they are together for life.
These fish also have dorsal and pelvic spines. These spines have poison glands in them and can deliver a nasty poison to any creature that does not handle them carefully. The poison is extremely painful but not deadly.
Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)
Philippine tarsiers are small primates, native to the southeastern Philippines, as their name suggests. They inhabit mainly primary forest, but can also live in secondary forest, meaning that they can make use of previously destroyed areas as long as they are repopulated with trees and bushes. They are listed as near threatened as their populations have declined over the last three generations.
Tarsiers are the only carnivorous primates in the world, feeding mostly on insects and spiders. To catch such fast moving prey, they are extremely agile and are even able to rotate their heads a full 360 degrees. They also have the largest eye to body size ratio of any mammal.
Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae)
The Sumatran tiger is a subspecies of tiger found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They are critically endangered due to extensive habitat loss and hunting, and there thought to be less than 700 individuals in the wild. If they were to go extinct, they would join other Sunda Island tigers like the Bali tiger and Javan tiger, which have already gone extinct. A number of conservation programs are attempting to protect these animals but only a stop to human expansion and poaching would be able to save them.
Sumatran tigers are the smallest tiger subspecies and also described as being the darkest. Males also grow more hair around the neck and face, giving them a maned or bearded appearance. Some scientists have posited that the Sumatrans are distinctly different enough from other subspecies to be considered their own species.
Wilson’s Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus respublica)
The Wilson’s bird of paradise is a beautiful bird that is classed as near threatened by the IUCN. Because they live only on two Indonesian islands off north-west Papua, their population is naturally quite small. It is thought to be declining, but their habitat is not yet severely fragmented or degraded, thus the classification of near threatened. No population estimates have been made however, so research is certainly needed.
The first footage of these birds filmed in the wild was caught by a BBC team led by David Attenborough in 1996. He managed to entice them out by dropping leaves on the forest floor, which the birds came out to clear away.
European Mink (Mustela lutreola)
The European mink is a critically endangered species due to three main factors; habitat loss, over-exploitation, and the impact of the American mink, an introduced species. Its range has been reduced by 85% in the last 200 years, leaving the populations fragmented and continuing to decline. Strict control of the American mink in Spain has helped mediate this threat, but the declining population trend continues.
These mink are semi-aquatic and make their homes in highly vegetated riverbanks. They feed mainly on crayfish, frogs, small mammals, fish and insects. The decline of crayfish in Europe has been proposed as an additional factor in the continued drop in mink numbers.