5 vulnerable animal species that may surprise you

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) describes their red list as “the world’s most comprehensive source of information on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungal and plant species”. IUCN has several levels of conservation status, including Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable. Critically endangered and endangered animals attract the most attention. But there are many others who are at risk and vulnerable. Unfortunately, we don’t hear much about it. While there are many vulnerable plants, animals and fungi on the IUNC Red List, here are five that may surprise you.

Bearded pig

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Native Borneo, and found on neighboring islands, bearded pigS are social animals and live in matriarchal groups of mothers and their offspring. During the day, they alternate between looking for food and sleeping. With their strong athletic abilities, they can climb and jump and swim between neighboring islands. Like other pigs, this one also has an excellent sense of smell, which allows it to locate food in the ground and dig it up with the muzzles. Their diet is made up of insects, roots and seeds of chestnut and oak trees, but one of their favorite foods is fruits that have been dropped or fallen by other animals. People in rural Borneo have been hunting bearded pigs sustainably for many years. However, agricultural expansion and logging have devastated their habitat and hunting is no longer sustainable, so the bearded pig has become one of the vulnerable animal species on the IUNC Red List.

Humboldt penguin

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This vulnerable animal species owes its name to the Humboldt Current, a cold water current that flows through South America. The humboldt penguin survives on anchovies, herring, krill and squid – sometimes diving to depths above 180 feet for its meal. Their numbers have declined dramatically, due to habitat disturbance caused by guano crop (used for fertilizer); less food availability due to anchovy fishing, El Niño climate patterns and climate change. When on earth, they are the prey by foxes, caracaras and wild dogs. In the water, Humboldt penguins serve as food for sharks and fur seals. Despite the protections in place, the Humboldt penguin is threatened with capture. This is done for use as fish bait or for human consumption. Watch this video of a Humboldt penguin who was recused in Chile a few months ago.


Marine iguana

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The only species of marine lizard, these animals evolved from land iguanas about 4.5 million years ago and are found in the Galapagos Islands. Despite their name, they spend a lot of time on land, although they are not particularly agile at moving around. They are much more adept at operating in the water, which is where they will feed. These herbivores can dive up to 65 feet, where they primarily consume algae. Although not typically social creatures, marine iguanas regroup at night to conserve heat. The next day, they lie down in the sun, absorbing heat until their energy is restored. Interestingly, their heart rate slows down to half its normal rate when they enter the water, which helps them conserve energy. A combination of urban development, human interference, invasive species and climate change are playing a major role in placing these vulnerable species on the IUNC Red List.

Smooth-haired otter

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Found in lakes, peat swamp forests, wooded rivers and freshwater wetlands in southern Asia, smooth-haired otters are as comfortable in the water as they are on land. These omnivores eat a variety of foods, including insects, rats, turtles, and birds. However, fish make up at least 75 percent of their diet. These intelligent animals hunt in groups, which allows them to gather schools of fish. As a result of this behavior, fishermen train them train them to attract fish in nets. Covered with thick fur to keep them warm, they are the only marine animal without fat. Often confused with the beaver, they are actually more closely related to mink, badgers and ferrets. Unfortunately, the smooth otter is a vulnerable species due to contamination of waterways from the use of pesticides, habitat loss from hydroelectric projects, and agricultural development.


Woolly lemur

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There are 110 species of lemurs, all native to Madagascar. The three books woolly lemur is named for its thick and dense back. With a tail longer than their body, they use it to keep their balance when jumping to different trees; however, they are not very active. These nocturnal animals do not move much, even at night, mainly because they do not receive a large amount of nutrition due to being folivorous, which means that their diet is made up entirely of leaves. Woolly lemurs mate for life and live in family groups, with male, female, and offspring. They even sleep together in trees, between 6 and 30 feet from the ground. Humans are the primary cause of their vulnerability, with logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting representing it. It is disheartening to see these animals on the IUNC Red List.

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