WWF’s “9 to Watch” list:
1. Javan Rhinoceros
Population: Less than 60. Location: Indonesia and Vietnam.
This is probably the rarest large mammal species in the world and is critically endangered. Poaching from the growing human population makes it harder for the rhinos to live because we are constantly destoying their environment and their lives. WWF continuously monitors these rhinos and protects them from poachers.
Population: 150. Location: Upper Gulf of California, Mexico.
The vaquita is probably the world’s smallest and most endangered marine animal, this tiny porpoise is often killed in gillnets and could soon be extinct. WWF is working with local fishermen and private government officials on an effort to save the vaquita. This includes making a vaquita refuge, buying out gillnet fisheries and creating vaquita-friendly fishing gear and other alternatives for the fishermen and their families.
3. Cross River Gorilla
Population: 300. Location: Nigeria and Cameroon.
The remaining forests of southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon are home to the recently discovered Cross River gorilla, a subspecies of the western gorilla. But as its forests are destroyed by timber companies, hunters move in. Conservation is urgently needed for this new animal, which is probably the world’s rarest ape. In Nigeria, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, a WWF aliance, is working with communities in the Cross River National Park to help save the Cross River gorilla.
4. Sumatran Tiger
Population: 400-500. Location: Sumatra, Indonesia.
The increase of deforestation and poaching make the Sumatran tiger have the same fate as its extinct Javan and Balinese relatives in other parts of Indonesia. Tigers are poached for their body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, while skins are also highly saught. WWF is researching the Sumatran tiger population with camera traps. They also support anti-poaching patrols and works to reduce humans conflict with tigers as their habitat gets destroyed. Because of WWF and its partners, the Indonesian government in 2008 doubled the size of Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the most safe and promising tiger sanctuaries.
5. North Pacific Right Whale
Population: Unknown, but less than 500. Location: Northern Pacific, U.S., Russia and Japan.
The North Pacific right whale is one of the world’s rarest marine mammals, almost hunted to extinction until the 1960s. It is rarely sighted and has a bad reputition for survival because of collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing nets and the production of oil and gas in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. WWF is working to improve shipping safety to avoid collisions and trying to prevent oil and gas development in Bristol Bay, which is the whale’s favourite summer feeding ground.
6. Black-Footed Ferret
Population: 500 breeding adults. Location: Northern Great Plains, U.S. and Canada.
Found only in the Great Plains, it is one of the most endangered mammals in North America because its common prey to many larger animals, the prairie dog has been nearly killed off by ranchers who consider it to be a nuisance. WWF has been working to save the black-footed ferret and the prairie dog population, which the ferrets depend on.
7. Borneo Pygmy Elephant
Population: Maybe fewer than 1,000. Location: Borneo, Malaysia.
The Borneo Pygmy elephant is the smallest of all elephant species and is mostly endangered because of deforesting in the lowland forests of Borneo. WWF is working to ensure protection of the pygmy elephants and tracks the elephants through the use of satellite collars to learn more about these creatures.
8. Giant Panda
Population: 1,600. Location: China.
Used as the symbol for the fund since WWF’s beginning in 1961, the giant panda faces a bad future. Its forest habitat in the mountain areas of southwest China has become lalmost completely destroyed, creating small populations. WWF has been active in giant panda conservation for nearly three decades, working to protect habitats and by assisting the Chinese government in creating a program to protect the panda and its habitat through the creation of reservation parks.
9. Polar Bear
Population: 20,000-25,000. Location: Arctic.
The greatest risk to their population now is climate change. If warming in the Arctic continue, polar bears will be vulnerable to extinction within the next 100 years. WWF is supporting field research to understand how climate change will affect polar bears and to come up with ideas of how they could adapt. WWF also works to protect polar bear habitat by working with government to reduce threats from shipping and oil and gas development in the region.