Four Worst Places to be an Endangered Species

2. Indonesia


A Sumatran tiger.
Photo: Stockbyte TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, reported earlier this year that lack of enforcement by Indonesian officials continues to support, by way of negligence, the widespread sale of the endangered Sumatran tiger.
"Tiger body parts, including canine teeth, claws, skin pieces, whiskers and bones, were on sale in 10 percent of the 326 retail outlets surveyed during 2006 in 28 cities and towns across Sumatra. Outlets included goldsmiths, souvenir and traditional Chinese medicine shops, and shops selling antique and precious stones."

And the tiger is not Indonesia's only endangered animal: The possibility of extinction for the orangutan is very real, as is the threat to Sumatran elephants, which face the twin threats of poaching for bushmeat and TCM alongside logging for the production of palm oil. With the highest known lowland forest plant biodiversity on Earth located in Sumatra, and a deforestation rate that has seen a loss of 65% of its original forest cover in the past 25 years (11% of which occurred simply in 2005 and 2006), Indonesia faces an uphill battle to protect its endangered species.

1. the United States of America


Endangered Sonoran pronghorn antelope in a captive breeding program eat supplemental hay at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Reserve on March 27, 2006 near Ajo, Arizona.
Photo: David McNew

Home sweet home, where the deer and the antelope play, but not so much the gray wolf or the bighorn sheep , or actually, even that antelope--the Sonoran pronghorn, a subspecies of the pronghorn antelope, is endangered too. Whereas lack of enforcement to stop poaching, deforestation, and smuggling are what threatens endangered species in other countries, the USA’s problem, much like China's, is that it too often puts the short-term industrial good ahead of the long-term ecological. The Bush administration in conjunction with the Interior Department are trying to push through changes in endangered species rules that would allow federal agencies to approve power plants, dams, and a variety of other projects without consulting wildlife experts in advance.

Oh, and remember China, back at number 5, the world's biggest market for illegal animal products? Guess who'd be second on that list?

Gold Star to Botswana


Herd of African elephants in South Africa at the Addo Elephant National Park.
Photo: Martin Child

This list would not be complete without giving a nod to one country others should emulate. According to a 2007 Washington Post article, over a quarter of the 400,000 African elephants living in the wild can be found in Botswana. Of the 270,000 to be found on the rest of the continent, however, nearly 10% were killed in 2006 alone, according to estimates based on found ivory caches.

So good job, Botswana. Bad job, everyone else.

To Learn More About Endangered Species:
Bush Administration Proposes 48 New Endangered Species in Hawaii
CSI Wildlife: DNA Forensics Used to Prevent Elephant Poaching
Despite Palin, Beluga Whales On The Endangered Species List
Endangered Species List is Itself Endangered

Tags: Africa | Amazonia | Animals | Asia | Brazil | China | Deforestation | Endangered Species | Indonesia | Rivers | United States

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