May 20th marks the 17th annual Endangered Species Day. Every year, thousands of people around the world join together in taking action to protect and celebrate endangered or threatened species. In solidarity with the lives of the wonderful creatures with whom we share Earth, The Optimist Daily wanted to report on some conservational triumphs over the past few years.
Incredible conservation efforts from around the globe have resulted in multiple species bouncing back from the brink of extinction. Fauna and Flora International – the world’s oldest international wildlife conservation organization – recently released a statement revealing several animals that have rebounded from critical status and their populations are growing again.
Hunting is what caused the numbers of these beautiful desert antelope species to diminish, and this practice still poses a threat to them today. However, the Arabian oryx was one of the first global examples of the successful reintroduction of an animal that has been declared extinct in the wild into its original habitat, jumping from 10 to its current 1,000.
Hunting and habitat destruction drove mountain gorillas to the verge of extinction. Although not completely off conservationists’ radar, the species has jumped from “critically endangered” status to “endangered.” The continuing expansion of these primates’ habitat in Rwanda will “allow the endangered species to flourish,” according to the African Wildlife Foundation.
The Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia support around 250 of the surviving Siamese crocodiles. The freshwater species disappeared from 99 percent of its former wetland habitats, placing them at critically endangered levels. Since the crocodiles were rediscovered in 2000 by conservationists, the local community and Cambodian government have worked to create sanctuaries and protect the crocodiles’ habitat. Hundreds have now been released back into the wild, with expanding populations in Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
Pemba flying fox
With a wingspan of 5.5 feet, Africa’s largest fruit bat is the Pemba flying fox. These creatures only live on the remote island of Pemba, near Tanzania, and were nearly extinct 30 years ago. Since 1995, conservation efforts have been focused on rescuing this critically endangered animal and its ecosystem, which provides vital sources of food and shelter for the bats. Thankfully, numbers have jumped from just a few hundred to a thriving 22,000.
The Iberian lynx is one of the most endangered feline species, with their population dipping to less than 100 due to loss of habitat and rabbit prey. Conservation management of land across southern Portugal over the past 20 years has allowed populations to bounce back and over 400 of these wildcats are back lurking around their oak forest habitat.