Endangered Animals in the Rainforest
Endangered Rainforest Animals
Destruction of our environment is the biggest contribution that we make to the extinction of many species in the forest. It is estimated that approximately half the number of world’s animals live in the rain forests. Due to the rapid disappearance of rain forests many animals living in them are now endangered. Every plant and animal needs an ideal environment where they can survive. No life can exist without proper and sufficient source of food, water and shelter. There should be a balance between the prey and the predator, without which the population might either vanish or explode. It is estimated that every hour 240 acres of natural habitat disappear.
The main reasons for the endangered species are,
i. destruction of the ecosystem
ii. low level of genetic variability
iii. poor dispersal ability
v. large area requirements
vi. hunting and fishing
vii. concentrated population
viii. introduction of exotic species
ix. concentrated population
x. long distance migration
xi. and many other reasons, the list can go on…
Listed below is the endangered species of the rain-forest. It is the best known species that are listed, but in fact there are many other species that are endangered as well.
Golden Lion Tamarin Monkey:
Golden lion tamarin monkeys are squirrel-sized monkey with long, silky reddish-brown fur that live in the lowland rainforest of the Atlantic coast of Brazil. They eat fruit, flowers, gums and nectars of plants, insects, snails, frogs, lizards and birds' eggs. They are the smallest monkeys in the world. They are the most endangered species in the world. There are approximately 800 of these monkeys left in the wild. The reason for their extinction is their beautiful coloured fur, which the poachers sell for an amount close to $20,000.
Gorillas are shy, gentle, peaceful animals. Mountain Gorillas are found in the Virunga volcanoes region in eastern Zaire, Rwanda and Uganda, and eastern lowland gorilla is found in eastern Zaire and western lowland gorilla is found in the West Africa and Congo basin. Mountain and eastern lowland gorillas are completely vegetarian; eating leaves, stems and fruit of plants such as bamboo whereas Western lowland gorillas also eat insects and small invertebrates. It is estimated that about 80 percent of the gorilla population is extinct. Gorillas face threat in wherever place they live. Destruction of habitat, hunting by humans and diseases caused by Ebola virus are the reasons for extinction.
Poison Dart Frog:
The poison dart frogs live in the tropical rainforest which usually stay near a water source, such as a pond or stream. They are found in the Central and South America mostly in the Amazon rainforest. There are around 234 species of poison dart frogs known to humans, of which twenty eight percent are endangered due to destruction of rainforests. This beautiful and deadly, frog comes in a variety of blue colours with black spots on its head. They eat termites, crickets, ants and fruit flies. Chemicals from their food are converted into poisons, which they release from the skin and can be lethal to their predators. It is believed that Poison arrow frogs have about 200 micrograms of poison in their systems where it would take only 2 micrograms to kill a human. The poison from the poison dart frogs from Colombia and South America are utilized by Indians to poison the tips of blowgun darts.
Manatees are gentle, plant-eating herbivores sometimes nicknamed "sea cows". They are thick-skinned, streamlined, and have almost hairless bodies with their forelimbs modified into flippers. The tail is enlarged and horizontally-flattened. They are found in the warm waters of coastlines and rivers in rainforest regions of Florida, the Caribbean, Africa, the AmazonBasin and parts of Asia. They are quite rare with only 2,500 left in the USA. They spend most of their time feeding, resting or travelling and prefer shallow saltwater bays, slow-moving rivers, canals, estuaries and coastal waters. Manatees eat aquatic and semi-aquatic plants which include manatee grass, turtle grass, and various species of algae, mangrove leaves, and water hyacinths. Manatees are migratory animals adapted to both saltwater and freshwater habitats and can live up to a period of sixty years. Their main threat is destruction of habitat.
The Bengal tiger is an extremely endangered species living in the mangrove forests of the Sundarban regions of India, Bangladesh, China, Siberia and Indonesia. They are nocturnal and so hunt at night. They stalk their prey and kill them with a bite on the back of the neck and large prey with a bite to the throat. They usually hunt wild ox and buffaloes but in the Sundarbans region of India and Bangladesh, they hunt deer, wild boar, and monkeys and rarely porcupines. They can eat around sixty five pounds of meat in a night. At present there are less than 2,500 of this species left, while there were more than 45,000 in 1900. Poaching and destruction of habitat are the reasons for this species getting endangered. India's National Parks are being mismanaged, and there are not enough guards to stop the poaching of tigers. Tigers are rarely killed with guns, as a bullet hole affects the value of the skin. So they are given poisoned meat, and suffer a slow and agonising death which sometimes takes several days.
Chimpanzees are found in Africa, from Guinea to western Uganda and Tanzania. They live in Rainforest and savannah. They feed on mainly fruit (including bananas, pawpaw and wild figs), but also leaves, buds, flowers, bark, resin, honey, ants, termites and rarely birds eggs and chicks and animals such as young bushbucks, bush pigs, colobus monkeys and young baboons. The chimpanzee exhibits a lot of human qualities such as facial expressions, problem-solving abilities and a high level of parental care. They even suffer from human diseases such as malaria. Chimpanzees are regarded as a nuisance when they attack banana plantations. Destruction of habitats, hunting and trapping chimpanzees for zoos and experimental use (testing drugs) have put chimpanzees on the endangered animals list.
Harpy Eagles are found in tropical lowland rainforests of Central and South America, from south eastern Mexico and Bolivia to northern Argentina and southern Brazil. They prefer to live in large areas of continuous forests. They feed on animals that live in the trees, like sloths, monkeys, opossums, and some reptiles and birds. They are considered to be one of the largest and most powerful of the eagle species in the world. They can only fly with prey weighing up to approximately one half of their body weight. They bring fresh green twigs and branches to their nest, which help eradicate the nest from insects and parasites, also providing a cool environment. The major threats to this endangered species are loss of habitat, destruction of nesting sites and hunting.
The word orang-utan literally means a 'person of the forest'. They live in the dense tropical rainforests of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They are heavy with human-like body, very long arms, grasping hands and feet. They have dark grey skin and reddish hair. They feed on tropical fruits, leaves, shoots, bark, insects and eggs. They are very intelligent. An orang-utan may stay in a place where there is plenty of food for as long as the supply lasts. Orang-utans make simple nests every night to sleep, by bending branches together to form a platform, sometimes with a roof over the nest to protect them from the rain. This species is highly endangered due to destruction and loss of habitat as well as poaching and hunting for the wild animal trade. The orang-utan population has declined approximately 80 percent in the last 75 years.
The jaguar is the only member of the panthera family to be found in the Americas and is the biggest cat on the continent. The Jaguars were once found in the southern states of the USA down to the tip of South America. But now they are found only in the north and central parts of the South American continent. They are found mostly in the lowland rain forests of the AmazonBasin, and also in dry woodland and grassland. It preys on large domestic livestock such as cattle and horses, Marsh deer, Brocket deer, various species of Peccary, larger rodents such as Capybara, Paca and Agouti, reptiles, monkeys in the lower branches of the large rain forest trees and will often eat fish, turtles and large caiman. It is estimated that there are now only around 15,000 jaguars left in the wild and conservation. Jaguar is facing complete extinction due to poachers who hunt the cat for its fur and the destruction of its rain forest habitat.
The leopards are found all over Africa, from the Arabian Peninsula through Asia to Manchuria and Korea. They can adapt to almost any type of habitat where there is sufficient food and cover, which excludes only the interior of large deserts. It is the only large predator in the rain forests. Leopards consume protein in any form, from beetles up to antelopes twice its own weight. It readily eats dead rotten meat, storing the killed animals in trees and returning in the night to feed on them. Their main diet include medium sized antelopes and the young topi, hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra. They also feed on hares, birds and small carnivores including baboons. These beautiful leopards are on the endangered list because of their habitat being destroyed, being hunted for their fur.
The three toed sloths are found in central and South American rain forests. They are the world's slowest mammal, and are so inactive that algae grow on its furry coat. They live their lives in the canopy of the forest. They only descend the trees once a week to urinate and defecate, and communicate through scent. They spend most of their time on top of trees hanging from branches with their long claws. Dead sloths have been known to retain their grip and remain suspended from a branch. Sloths even sleep in trees from 15 to 20 hours every day. At night they eat leaves, shoots, and fruit from the trees and get almost all of their water from juicy plants. They are an endangered species due to destruction of habitat and are also more vulnerable to predators. They are mostly found in the Amazon.
The hyacinth macaws are found in southern Brazil, eastern Bolivia and north eastern Paraguay. They are the largest parrot in the world. They live in the Amazon rainforest. It is believed that there were more than 100,000 hyacinth macaws before the arrival of Amerindians in South America. But in 1990, the wild population was estimated to be 2,500 birds. The hyacinth macaw eats seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetable matter and also eight species of palm. Its large beak allows it to eat inaccessible nuts and seeds. Macaws can eat some poisonous seeds and unripe fruits that no other animal can digest. Macaws are captured for local sale and about 50 percent of hyacinth macaws trapped in Brazil were bought by Brazilians rather than being sold overseas. The hyacinth macaw and many other macaws are highly endangered, because their habitat has been lost due to hydroelectric power development. Vast riverside habitats have been flooded by building dams. Apart from that ranchers kill macaws because they believe that hyacinths damage palm trees and in some places, local people still hunt macaws for meat.
The toucans are beautiful forest birds found in the rain forests of Central and South America from Mexico to Argentina. They have enormous and colourful bill, and red, yellow, blue, black or orange plumage. They feed on fruits, nuts and berries and nest in tree holes, laying glossy white eggs that are incubated by both parents. They are friendly and cute birds and nest in tree holes. They are very popular pets, and are captured to supply demand for this trade. There are around 40 species of toucan many of which are endangered. The threat is due to destruction of habitat and also capture for sale in pet markets.