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The earth’s current rate of extinction is greater than at any other time since the dinosaurs disappeared around 65 million years ago.

This post was produced in partnership with our friends at Mountain Travel Sobek. The animals listed below can be seen on one of their eco-responsible adventure tours. Click the logo to learn more.

THE NATURAL EXTINCTION RATE (aka background rate) describes how fast plants, mammals, birds, insects, etc. would die off if humans weren’t around. Scientists state that today species are disappearing at almost 1,000 times the natural rate, meaning we’re losing around 150-200 species every day. Close to 15% of mammal species and 11% of bird species are currently listed as threatened with extinction.

With an increasing human population, more and more land is being appropriated to develop cities, acquire natural resources, and build farms, amongst other reasons. This means loss of habitat for many animal species. In addition to this, other beings need to contend with human-caused disasters such as oil spills, climate change, and acid rain. And on top of that there’s the issue of over-hunting / -fishing and poaching to sustain an illegal market that trades in animals.

Hopefully this is something we can turn around, and the 21 animals listed below will be with us far into the future.



About The Author

Carlo Alcos

Carlo is the Dean of Education at MatadorU and a Managing Editor at Matador. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He lives in Nelson, British Columbia.

  • Maddie Gressel

    I love this. Thanks….and it makes me sad/ scared to say that I’ve seen all of TWO of these in the wild.

  • World Wide Adventurers – Wandering the World

    Wonderful animals in the wild… thanks for wonderful photos.

  • Fans of animals

    thank you for the picture and will share to all fans of animals.

  • Jason Nemeth

    Stopped at the totally not-endangered Polar Bear.

    • Carlo Alcos

      They’re one step away from Endangered status (listed as Vulnerable right now), but with climate change a reality, with the decreasing trend in their population, just a matter of time (hopefully I’m wrong).

    • Alex Hawke

      The Polar Bear was the one that got my radar up. I know their numbers have more than tripled in the last 10 years, and that they are having problems with Polar Bear over population in Alaska and Canada.

    • Notorious J

      polar bear populations are rapidly decreasing, educate yourself.

  • Chitra Sivasankar Arunagiri

    Great article. Wonderful animals but very sad that they are endangered. How much less are we leaving for the next generation?

  • Tere Estudillo

    beautiful photos!

  • Nicky Classen

    Great article, I have seen 6 of the 21 you have listed.

  • Nicky Classen

    Great article, I have seen 6 of the 21 you have listed.

  • Chrystine Olson

    Great article Carlos! Gorgeous images! Highly recommend wild places and the creatures who call them home as a focus for travel. Even better…volunteer to help these species and their habitat’s continued survival! Because of my work as an rangeland specialist for the US Forest Service (with brilliant chances to extend my skill set overseas) I have seen 12 of the animals on this list :)

  • Oisin Lee Doyle

    this is natural selection the weaker members of the species die out leaving only the strong if its caused by disease, only the immune will live.

    • Carlo Alcos

      How so when much of it is at the hands of humans in the form of illegal poaching/logging (loss of habitat) and loss of environment due to human caused climate change?

    • steve

      hahaha youre an idiot… is natural selection just pushing us towards only humans inhabiting earth?

    • Notorious J

      Your stupidity is showing

  • Rajat Chauhan

    vow excellent

  • Notorious J

    Disgusting how we’ve destroyed the planet and killing these innocent creatures in the process. It is through our actions alone, that these animals are nearly wiped off the planet. Pollution, poaching/excessive hunting, logging/deforestation, mining, urbanization/human movement, etc. all contribute to the loss of these animals. Very sad.

  • tom

    So many there that arn’t endanged, get you facts right

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