Saola (pronounced: sow-la) are recognized by two parallel horns with sharp ends, which can reach 20 inches in length and are found on both males and females. Meaning “spindle horns” in Vietnamese, they are a cousin of cattle but resemble an antelope. Saola have striking white markings on the face and large maxillary glands on the muzzle, which could be used to mark territory or attract mates. They are found only in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos.
2. Cuban snail (Polymita picta)
Cuba is home to the world’s greatest diversity of snails, but no others have shells with such a range of colors and complex patterns. Painted snails, in the genus Polymita, have long been sought by collectors, who sell the shells to tourists or trade them abroad to the United States and Europe. This demand is one reason why Cuba lists all six species as critically End.an.gered, and why it’s been illegal for more than a decade to take these snails from the wild. The Convention on International Trade in End.an.gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates global commerce in wildlife, has banned their trade since 2017.
The painted snails inhabit a thin belt of vegetation along Cuba’s eastern coastline. Though scientists don’t know how many painted snails there are, they’ve learned that they occupy small areas because they depend on micro-habitats with just the right makeup of plants. For the most part, the snails live in trees and shrubs, eating lichens and mosses, sources of the minerals that give their shells the stunning colors.
3. Northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita)
Northern bald ibises are found in semi-arid desert, steppe regions. They feed on rocky areas or cliffs that are located near a stream or river. The rocky areas or cliffs are generally around 1400 m in elevation. They were historically located in the European Alps, Northern Africa, and the Middle East until the start of the 1900’s. As of 2004 there were only two remaining populations of the ibis in Morocco and Turkey. Ninety-nine percent of the wild population could be found in Morocco.
The northern bald ibis has a black feathered body and a face without any feathers. The face and the beak of the ibis are dull red in color. The beak of the ibis usually ranges from 130 to 135 mm. The beak size varies between male and female ibis. The northern bald ibis also has a portion of feathering around the neck known as a wispy ruff which is just a clump of feathers that looked puffed up all the time. The glossy black feathers that cover the body of the ibis help mask them while they sleep at night so that pre.d.ators will not get them. The wispy ruff on the back of the neck helps protect them from being seen by covering up the head while it sleeps due to the red coloring of their head. The bills of the ibis have a slight curvature in it and this is used as an advantage to find food such as insects in the ground or in trees.
4. Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)
The resplendent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) is a bird in the trogon family. It is found from Chiapas, Mexico to western Panama (unlike the other quetzals of the genus Pharomachrus, which are found in South America and eastern Panama). It is well known for its colorful plumage. There are two subspecies, P. m. mocinno and P. m. costaricensis. Listed as “Lower Ri.sk/Near T.hr.eatened Species” and in CITES Appendix I, P. mocinno is dependent on standing d.e.ad and mature trees for breeding holes, which are only formed in primary cloud forest, even if tree stumps occur temporally in secondary growth as remnants of primary cloud forest. A population of P. mocinno in the northernmost Guatemalan mountain range (Chelemhá Plot, Sierra Yalijux, Alta Verapaz) was studied in 2002 and compared with a census at the same location in 1988. Between 1988 and 2002, the number of males did not change significantly: a small increase took place from 15 to 18 individuals per 100 ha. The species’ breeding behaviour is linked to the long-term existence of primary forests such as the few remaining in highland Guatemala. Breeding success was proven and at least three juveniles from two breeding pairs were observed until the end of September 2002.
5. Angel shark (Squatina squatina)
Angelsharks were historically common in the northeast Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Seas from Norway south to Morocco. Today, a unique stronghold for this species is found in the Canary Islands where angelsharks are regularly seen by divers and fishers. Smaller populations are also present in other areas of Europe, including Wales, Ireland, Turkey and Greece. The angel shark family (Squatinidae) has been declared the second most T.hr.eatened of all sharks and rays’ families, following the sawfishes. This species has a relatively low life cycle and reproduction occurs by aplacental viviparity (live young develop inside the female). The gestation period takes between 8 and 10 months with females giving birth to between 7 and 25 pups. The angelshark range has contracted by over 80% in the past century. Angel sharks are very susceptible to being accidentally caught in bottom fishing gear due to their demersal nature. Fisheries pose one of the biggest T.hr.eats to this species, alongside human disturbance and habitat degradation as they have preference for inshore sandy habitats.
6. Golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus)
Golden-rumped elephant shrews have a long, flexible snout. They are distinguished from other elephant shrews by their golden rump patch and grizzled gold forehead. There is an area of thickened skin (a dermal shield) under the rump patch. This dermal shield is thicker in males than in females and is thought to provide protection from the biting attacks of hostile males. The feet, ears, and legs are black. The tail is black, execpt the distal 1/3 which is white with a black tip. The fur is fine, stiff and glossy; the ears are naked; the tail is sparsely furred. The elephant shrew uses its long, flexible nose to overturn leaf-litter where it finds and eats a wide variety of invertebrates including earthworms, millipedes, insects and spiders.
The coastal forest where these animals live is being cleared for agriculture. They are protected in 44 hectares of the Gedi Historical Monument in Kenya.
7. Dama gazelle (Nanger dama)
The dama gazelle (Nanger dama) is one of the three most T.hr.eatened antelope species in the world. It is classified on the IUCN Red List of T.hr.eatened Species as Critically End.an.gered and is listed on Appendix I of CITES and CMS. Three subspecies are generally recognised, but the intraspecific taxonomy of the species is not fully resolved and their validity may be questionable. Dama gazelles were once widely distributed across the whole Sahel zone, parts of the western Sahara and lower valleys of the mountain massifs of the Sahara, but range and numbers have drastically declined. Now only five small and fragmented subpopulations are thought to survive and numbers in the wild are estimated to total less than 300.
8. Borneo pygmy elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis)
The Bornean Elephant is a subspecies of the Asian Elephant, physically and behaviourally different from the elephants of mainland Asia. The Bornean Elephant is found in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain in the state of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo and, occasionally, in the Indonesian state of East Kalimantan. Generally they are found in lowland forest, which in the Kinabatangan is seasonally inundated with floodwaters.
Known locally and commonly as ‘Bornean Pygmy Elephants’, they are about a fifth smaller than mainland Indian Elephants but similar in size to populations of Sumatra and the Malaysian Peninsula. They are generally more rotund in appearance with shorter trunks and a smaller rounder face, which makes their ears appear larger. They also have a long tail, which in some individuals reaches all the way down to the ground. Only some males display tusks, which are shorter and straighter than in the mainland elephants.
There is continued debate on the status of the Bornean Elephant, which has been genetically distinct from the mainland species for more than 300,000 years. It is now thought that these elephants might be descendants of a population of Javan elephants, brought over to Borneo by the Sultan of Sulu. Since the Javan elephant was h u.nted to ex.ti.nction on Java and Sulu during the 19th century, this makes the Bornean Elephant of great conservation interest
There are estimated 1,000-1,600 individuals left and the largest population is found in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain. Unfortunately, the increase in global demand for palm oil has led to increased human-elephant co.nfli.ct and the elephants are now s.ever.ely T.hr.eatened by habitat loss as deforestation for oil palm plantations and logging continues.
9. Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana)
The Hine’s emerald dragonfly was first discovered in Ohio, but by the mid-1900’s it was believed to be ex.ti.nct. In 1988 a specimen collected in the Des Plaines River Valley (southwest of Chicago) in Illinois was later identified as this species. Subsequent surveys uncovered additional populations there, as well as northeast Wisconsin, Michigan, and Missouri. All are associated with areas of groundwater-fed wetlands that are perched over limestone bedrock.
The Hine’s emerald dragonfly, listed as End.an.gered, is found in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin. Adults lay their eggs in small streams in fens and sedge meadows. After hatching, the aquatic larvae spend up to five years in wetlands before completely maturing and emerging as adult dragonflies.
10. Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata)
Elkhorn corals have symbiotic algae living within their cells, providing the corals with excess energy that they make via photosynthesis (the use of sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into food/energy). Nearly all species of shallow-water corals and several other groups of reef invertebrates have symbiotic relationships with these algae, so it is important that they live in clear, shallow water. Like all stony corals, the elkhorn coral builds a skeleton of calcium carbonate – a compound that will become increasingly more rare as the ocean acidifies (a phenomenon caused by the ocean’s absorption of acidic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).
Numerous species (including caribbean spiny lobsters, parrotfishes, tube blennies, and others) directly rely on elkhorn coral as their primary habitat.
As a result of d.is.ease, pol.luti.on, coral bleaching, and storm da.m.age, populations of elkhorn corals have cr.ash.ed. Throughout its range, it has become more and more rare, and scientists now consider it to be critically End.an.gered (very highly vulnerable to ex.ti.nction). As it is a keystone species and ecosystem engineer, its End.an.germent T.hr.eatens many other coral reef species. Without careful management of the T.hr.eats that elkhorn corals experience, one of the most important species of reef-building corals in the Caribbean could be lost.