Meet Olobor, an African lion. This beautiful beast is one of five males that make up the Black Rock Pride in Kenya. His pride includes Scarface, the 14-year-old one-eyed grizzled male lion. He lives in Maasai Mara National Reserve, and though his species is not fully endangered, he’s well on his way there. In previous years, members of this pride were poisoned, shedding light on the human and wildlife conflict in Africa. At first glance, you might think this photograph was taken at night. But it’s actually due to a scorched landscape as men burn the ground for new grass growth. Marina Cano, a Spanish photographer, magically captured this beautiful wildlife photograph (The Guardian).
Humans especially love the hippopotamus around the world. They’re known for their large yawns, adorable little ears, and plump bodies. But their cuteness isn’t going to keep them from going extinct, and they’re now considered vulnerable, which means they’re creeping close to endangerment and then extinction. They’re a vulnerable species especially susceptible to changes in the freshwater system, including drought, loss of grazing areas, and agricultural diversions. Climate change will also change the varying levels of freshwater in the world, which means this species will be further impacted, with detrimental consequences. As freshwater changes, the hippo’s mortality rate increases, and their birth rates decline (Biological Diversity).
Drenched in snow, these golden snub-nosed monkeys cuddle for warmth. But an unfortunate scenario sits beneath their cuteness. Their species face habitat loss due to the fragmentation of forests, where they’re losing their home and food sources. Now, scientists consider them endangered. They only occupy central China, with around 3,000 of their population remaining. But that doesn’t mean they’re invisible to photographers. Minqiang Lu knew where they were hiding, in the Qinling Mountains. For nearly an hour, he traipsed through the snow and found them cuddling amongst the trees. It was 14 degrees Fahrenheit when Lu snapped the shutter (Nathab).
Liebana captured one of the cutest photos of the Spain Iberian Lynx. Unfortunately, this species is one of the most endangered cats due to illegal hunting, a decrease in the rabbit population, habitat loss, and decreasing food sources. Slowly but surely, thanks to awareness and an immense conservation effort, the species is slowly recovering in Spain and Portugal. Now, we’re seeing its population hovering above 400, where it was on the brink of extinction in previous years. Lierbana was on a conservation project in Spain. He purposefully hung around a waterhole frequented by a Lynx family. He waited for the perfect moment as this lynx lifted its head, licked its lips, and gazed straight at the camera (Endangered).
Decades of illegal poaching for the rhino’s horn have sent this poor creature onto the extinction list. It’s the world’s rarest rhino, and after staggering rates of horn hunting has increased, their population plummeted. In the wild, it has almost certain extinction. The last male died in 2018, and the two remaining females are too old to reproduce. Take one last look at this rhino, because we won’t see it anymore. With each passing day, their full extinction looms over our heads. Scientists are working hard to try and bring back their species using technology to take skin cells and turn them into immature egg cells (Smithsonian Mag).
Native to Africa, these pangolins thrive in the forest. But over the past two decades, their population has declined by almost 40%. This is due to forest loss and the trafficking of their scales from Africa to Asia. They face increasing rates of exploitation. Other species of pangolin, including the Chinese pangolin and Suda pangolin, may go extinct within the next decade if we don’t change our habits to stop this trend towards extinction. This is mainly due to illegal poaching, an unfortunate truth of our world (Born Free USA).
The Saiga is a critically endangered species seen in Kazakstan. In recent years the population has decreased by 60%. They span the Carpathian Mountains and were most notably known for their migration and unique snout. Tim Flach captured this stunning stare of the Saiga, an animal that’s now considered critically endangered. They’ve survived poaching, habitat loss, and rampant disease, across countries in Central Asia. Luckily, though, their population seems to be increasing, so the species may exit the endangered species list soon as they make a comeback (BBC).
These red foxes stand out against the pearly white backdrop of snow. Photographer Brittany Crossman captured these angelic animals as they mated during winter. Even though red foxes aren’t considered endangered just yet, they are labeled as least concerned, which means they’re on their way to endangerment. It’s incredibly rare to see a red fox, which is why this photograph is so shocking. Not only that, but the photographer managed to capture such an innocent, sweet moment of love (NWF).
This beautiful photograph portrays three northern right whale dolphins playing in the waves of the ocean. We see two dark gray adult heads and the tail of a baby dolphin. They have short beaks and no dorsal fins. Jodi Frediani managed to capture this photo while on a boat in Monterey Bay, California. She managed to capture the shot when a stranger offered their front seat to her. The kindness of strangers is the reason we’re seeing this photograph. They’re smaller than most other species of dolphins, though that doesn’t mean they lack in personality. Their species is considered under threat, even though they’re protected by Marine Mammal Protection Act (Fisheries).
As one of the most endangered raptors in the world, the Philippine Eagle is threatened by deforestation and the expansion of agriculture. Much of the forest in lowland countries is owned by logging companies, who are destroying their habitat. They’re also susceptible to poaching, mining, and pollution. Only around 400 breeding pairs remain on this planet. Tim Flach managed to capture this beautiful animal with its spunky hairdo. Hopefully, through increased education and effort to protect this species, we’ll see an incline in their population (Peregrine Fund).
As the lowest-ranking member of the Highway Clan, this spotted hyena was spotted eating roadkill in Ethiopia. These creatures eat what humans don’t want to eat, like scraps of meat. Even if it doesn’t sound like it, these animals are important for the life cycle. Sam Rowley snapped this photo as this hyena was scavenging for roadkill, with other members of his clan leaving the scene of the crime. There’s a noted trend of decline with this species, and though they’re not yet considered endangered, they’re on their way there. This is due to habitat loss, due to deforestation (World Land Trust).
The Satyr tragopans live in Bhutan. This rare species of Asian pheasant are unfortunately widely hunted for food. Usually, they’re skittish and run away at the first sight of humans, and understandably so. The photographer Mukherjee tried to capture them on camera for years. It wasn’t until he heard of Bhutan and how the communities live in unison with the animals that he captured them on his camera. Even though they’re considered the least threatened of the tragopans, they’re still considered near threatened. They suffer from forest loss and logging and live in a small population.
Because of the illegal ivory trade, the African elephant species is now suffering. Over the last several decades, their species have declined in number. They’re susceptible to habitat loss and climate change. They’re strong, smart, and wise creatures, but unfortunately cannot withstand the effects of climate change and habitat loss, making them particularly vulnerable to changes in the environment. As of 2023, there are roughly 415,000 elephants left in the world. They’re being poached toward the brink of extinction, and it’s up to humans to stop the practice so their species can survive (WWF Panda).
A lot of the time, snapping a photograph not only involves artistic skill but perfect timing. Real life and art come face to face in this beautiful image captured by Eduardo Blanco Mendizabal. In Navarre, the photographer saw a cat painted on a wall. Luck was on his side when a large gecko came out and crawled alongside the photograph. Using this as an opportune moment, he captured the gecko just as a cat looks like it’s about to munch on it. There are numerous species of geckos, and their status ranges from least concern to critically endangered. Because there’s a high demand for the pet trade and loss of habitat, the species of gecko is suffering (Rosamond Gifford Zoo).
We know these playful creatures for their altering black and white bands on their tails. Even then, they’re an endangered species due to population fragmentation and human-induced habitat loss. Humans are the biggest threat to species around the world, and we’re responsible for the near extinction of many species. Through the loss of habitat, the ring-tailed lemur faces extinction. And in some places around the world, people hunt the lemur with dogs for food. It’s more important they end up on someone’s dinner plate than survive in this world (National Zoo).
It’s common knowledge that the polar bear population is decreasing. This is due to global warming, changing temperatures, and the melting of ice caps. Human and industrial influence also affects their population, and researchers believe their population may be extinct by 2050. Martin Gregus watched a polar bear playing amongst a field of purple fireweeds in Canada. He strategically placed the camera at ground level to capture the cub at his angle, which helps the viewer relate more to the cub. He clicked the camera’s trigger at the right moment, while the cub was looking for his mother above the blossoms (Brightly).
Confined only to the RÃo Manduriacu Reserve in Ecuador, the endangered Mindo glass frogs nestle into the Andes Mountains. Because of human interference, habitat loss, and habitat threat, these small amphibians have made the endangered species list. Jaime Culebras captured this creature amid the calls of males in the forests. Scientists recently rediscovered this species in the biodiverse canyon. Researches recently spotted them in 2005, and hadn’t seen them since 1984. These elusive creatures managed to escape the human eye for several decades (The Revelator).
Endemic to Madagascar, this critically endangered species is also one of the rarest tortoises on the entire planet. It’s a miracle the photographer captured them on camera, but even so, their species is slowly dwindling. Their numbers are shocking, as there are less than 400 living plowshare tortoises alive and in the wild. They live in the dry forest of Baly Bay in Madagascar. Their extinction numbers stem from declines due to hunting for consumption and collection for the international pet trade (Edge Of Existence).
It comes as no surprise that human activity harms the environment. Photographed in the United Kingdom by Simon Withyman, this wounded fox was spotted trotting down the steps of a building with fence parts embedded in her side. She likely struggled to find food, but locals began putting food out for her to eat. After five months, authorities caught her and treated her for her injuries. Even though this species of fox is not endangered, the SN red fox of North America is endangered. But based on this photograph, if humans continue living the way we’re living, animals don’t face a chance against humans and their species will continue declining (My OWF).
Where Tradition Meets Endangerment: The Wild Cat Of South America
In the Andes Mountains, traditions and religions use animals as protectors and sacrifices. This is how this endangered wild cat ended up in a religious ceremony. In this shed in the Andes Mountains, locals celebrated the Andean cat as their guardian and good luck for fertile livestock. Though we may not fully understand ancient traditions, we can do our best to learn about them. Sebastian Kennerknecht captured this image to depict the most endangered wild cat in all of South America. Less than 2,500 individuals are remaining in the wild (Big Cats Wild Cats).
Late at night, Sami Vartiainen lurked through the woods only 23 feet away from a badger. They sat there for 45 minutes, watching the badger walk around, scratch its head, sniff the air, and crawl. It searched for food in the darkness and wandered around its den. The badger’s primary source of food is prairie dogs, and due to shooting and poisoning, their population is also decreasing which in turn affects the population of badgers. Due to habitat loss, urban development, agriculture, and deforestation, the population of badgers is decreasing (National Geographic).
Industrial logging, unsustainable logging, clearing of land, and overexploitation are impacting the population of the orangutans. Their species are disappearing, and scientists consider them a critically endangered species. More than 50% of the orangutan population lives outside protected forest areas. The palm oil and timber industry pose major threats to the forest. As seen in this photo, the International Animal Rescue takes care of these orphaned orangutans and rehabilitates them, in the hopes of reintroducing them back into the environment. They do this by helping the orangutans forage for food and make nests while interacting with other orangutans their age (World Wild Life).
Authorities regulate eel-hunting in the USA. But once you step over to the Caribbean, authorities do not regulate it. Eladio Fernandez captured a group of fishermen caught in illegal activity over the El Limon River. To get this shot, Fernandez was dedicated to the cause and spent several days waiting to capture the perfect photograph depicting what we see here. Due to numerous reasons, eels are considered an endangered species. Illegal fishing, as we see here, in addition to the development of hydropower turbines and pumping stations that kill the movement (Courses).
Even though this photograph depicts a heartbreaking scene, where a baby monkey clings to its dead mother, it also shows the cycle of life. The leopard needs food to eat, so it killed its prey. This happened in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, when Igor Altuna captured this stunning photograph. After the leopard reached its home, it play-hunted with the baby for an hour until ultimately killing it. Because people widely trade leopard skins and canine teeth, the poaching of leopards is unfortunately a common occurrence and thus lead to the endangerment of leopards. Their population is rapidly disappearing, and there are only around 250,000 leopards left in the world (Save Animals Facing Extinction).
Though the red panda is legally protected in India, Nepal, Myanmar, and China, scientists still consider them endangered. This is mainly due to human interference, poaching, habitat loss, and degradation. Over the last two decades, their population has decreased by nearly 40%. This is a shocking number that puts their species and risk of extinction into perspective. They’re important because they help balance the ecosystem and keep the amount of bamboo in the world under control. If bamboo goes out of control, it affects the forest, which in turn affects the plants and animals living there. It’s a domino effect (Conserve Energy Future).
Due to habitat loss because of human interference, like mineral mining, scientists consider flamingos well on their way to becoming an endangered species. There are around 80,000-90,000 American flamingos left in the world. Researchers find it difficult to get an accurate count of flamingos because they often fly around and move habitats. Photographer Claudio Contreras Koob captured this photograph of flamingos lying at Mexico’s RÃa Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. They picked up the chicks and brought them back to the safety of the colony. Because flamingos are sensitive to changes in the environment, scientists are worried climate change will have a drastic effect on their species (Flamingos World).
This Barbigant seahorse is a male who is pregnant. You can’t tell from this photograph, but they only grow to a maximum of three-quarters of an inch long. Photographer Nicholas More captured this stunning photo in Bali. The way this species survives is by mimicking the colors of the host they grip on to, in this case, a pink sea fan. They gestate for two weeks before giving birth to tiny, live young. Out of 35 species of seahorses, scientists only consider around 11 of them vulnerable. One species is endangered, one is near threatened, and two as least concerned. This is due to habitat change and climate change. Seahorses are often accidentally captured by fishing nets intended to capture shrimp (Project Sea Horse).
Photographers put in long hours in harsh conditions just to capture the ideal shot. This photographer is no exception. Deena Sveinsson waited long hours in freezing conditions. Just as she was about to give up, she spotted this Snowshoe Hare sitting in a mound of snow, looking straight at her. Unfortunately, due to climate change and habitat loss, scientists now consider the snowshoe hare species under threat. They’re well on their way to endangerment. Some habitats that previously had snow for long periods are now seeing warmer climates, endangering many species that rely on the cold, wintery seasons for survival (Animalia).
This beautiful creature, named Dantita, lives in the foothills of Braulio Carrillo National Park. They’re referred to as gardeners of the forest, and their species is important to their natural habitat since seeds germinate after passing through the tapir. But the species is now endangered, due to threats from deforestation and hunting, climate change, and road development. There are less than 4,500 ones left in the wild. They are large creatures and have a slow rate of reproduction, which is why their species is also very susceptible to climate change. Several conservation groups come together to help protect this species and work closely with communities to preserve this now-endangered species (Rewild).
In Vancouver Island, Canada, the photographer spotted this lone wolf wandering through eelgrass over a mudflat. Photographer Bertie Gregory was searching for black bears when he captured this majestic photograph of the species that is now under threat. Though researchers don’t consider them fully endangered, only 250,000 remain in the world. The endangered act protects gray wolves in the USA. Wolves are incredibly important, as they improve the habitat and help control certain species of bird and trout (Living with Wolves).
These majestic creatures are difficult to capture because of their stealthiness and ability to conceal. Sascha Fonseca captured this image to go against the unethical practices of photography, like using bait to lure animals to the lens, and prove that photographers do not need bait to draw an animal to their lens. The photographer spotted this snow leopard in the snowy mountains of Ladakh, India. Snow leopards, though not yet endangered, are considered vulnerable because of their dwindling numbers due to climate change, poaching, habitat loss, and the killing of their prey. They’re especially susceptible to changes in the environment, which is happening at a pace faster than humans can comprehend (World Wild Life).
In this photograph, we see a short, yet intense fight between two muskoxen as they fight over a female in heat. The fight was not as intense as the photographer, Miquel Angel ArtÃºs Illana, anticipated. But he still captured an enticing fight. He had followed the female, a male, and their three calves for four days before witnessing this fight. Though not endangered, scientists listed their species as the least concern, which is good news for the muskoxen species. Their species is considered stable, with around 80,000 to 120,000 left in the world. At least there’s some good news in this world, and not every species is going extinct (Discover Wildlife).