With thousands of species listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature -- and some 110,000 more at risk worldwide, according to top scientists -- picking a few to focus on is a daunting task.
In its "top 10 endangered species to watch in 2010," the World Wildlife Fund selected a handful of iconic, charismatic critters, while the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in a similar list sought to provide a "global snapshot of the world's most endangered animals" -- an eclectic sampling of species that shows the vast diversity of creatures at risk.
Logging and deforestation to clear land for palm oil plantations have decimated the Sumantran orangutan's forest habitat in the province of Aceh in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. "As more forest is converted, young orangutans are orphaned, illegally captured for the international pet trade, killed as pests for raiding fruit crops, or even killed for food," the WCS writes. Over the past 75 years, the orangutans' population has declined 80 percent -- to perhaps just 6,600 left in the wild.
Photo of captive Sumatran orangutan at the Sacramento Zoo by Just chaos via Flickr