What does it mean to be endangered?
There’s lots of life on our planet, from fungi to flowers, ferns to frogs and falcons. There’s you and me; there are big blue whales and tiny tardigrades. Each different kind of living being is called a species. So scientists will conduct lots of research about a species to understand how many there are – their population size – and what things might threaten their survival.
The survival of Earth’s species is vital for many reasons. A healthy, diverse Earth full of many species helps keep everything alive and flourishing for generations to come – even the waters and soil! Other species, such as animals, enrich our lives with wonder and joy. So there’s more than the human way to experience being on the planet.
What does it mean to be endangered?
If an animal is endangered, they are at risk of becoming extinct. Extinction means there are no individuals of that species alive in the wild. Dinosaurs and Dodos are extinct animals we’re familiar with, but examples of some recently extinct animals include Northern White Rhinoceros and West African Black Rhinoceros, Spix Macaw, and Thylacines.
Three levels of endangerment are measured by increasing the risk of extinction.
- , critically endangered
Understanding what rainforests are – and why they are threatened – will help you understand why rainforest animals are endangered.
What is a rainforest?
- Rainforests are a type of habitat. A habitat is a name we give to the environment in which a living thing lives.
- They are found on every continent on Earth apart from the cold desert of the south – Antarctica. High amounts of rainfall and dense evergreen tree cover characterize rainforests.
- There are different types of rainforests: warm, wet tropical rainforests found close to the equator, like the Amazon, and cooler, temperate rainforests found farther north.
- Rainforests are sometimes known as the ‘lungs of the planet’ – they draw in carbon dioxide and release oxygen that other animals – including humans – need to breathe.
They only cover around 6% of the surface of our blue planet, yet they support a huge amount of life on Earth. For example, over half of the world’s known plants and animals live on trees.
5 Endangered Rainforest Animals
This list comprises awesome rainforest animals you may not have heard of, and those most urgently need our care and compassion. If you enjoy reading about rainforest animals, you’ll love Rainforest Calling – a digital eBook for children accompanied by ready-to-use lesson packs and resources!
- Giant Pandas live in the temperate forests of China. These black and white tree-climbing bears are a national treasure in China. They have been the face of the World Wildlife Fund since the charity was founded in 1961. Yet, despite our love for the Giant Panda, they are vulnerable to extinction because their mountain forests are under threat.
- Golden Lion Tamarins are small monvitals between 15cm and 25cm tall! Their home is a small patch of rainforest on the coast of Brazil: over 90% of their original habitat has been destroyed. They are named after their bright gold mane and shining fur. They live in family groups of up to 8 individuals.
- Toucans are a big family of over 40 different species. They mostly live in lowland tropical rainforests, from Southern Mexico through Central America to Argentina. Some love the mountains and live in temperate forests in the huge Andes mountain range! These iconic, brightly colored birds are decreasing in number because they live in holes in large, old trees – and lots of ancient forests are diminishing.
- Little is known about how many Sumatran tigers live in the natural forests remaining in Sumatra, Indonesia: guesses stand at around 500 individuals. They are shy, tend to avoid people, and are the smallest tigers and the tigers with the biggest manes.
- Orang-Utans are large great apes like us. They live in rainforests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, like the Sumatran tiger. They are very intelligent. They eat fruit like lychees, mangos, and figs from high up in their nests in the canopy. Unfortunately, orangutans are poached or caught for the illegal pet trade, and their homes are at risk due to deforestation.
How can we help Endangered Rainforest Animals?
Sadly, rainforests are being destroyed by humans at a rapid rate. Deforestation is taking place – the destruction of the forest, usually by fire or logging.
They are destroyed so that land can be used to farm animals or grow feed for farmed animals. Trees are chopped down to make timber and to make way for urban buildings and roads.
This kind of use and destruction isnot sustainable – this means they can’t be done repeatedly.
Climate change caused by humans is also leading to rainforest animals becoming endangered. It is due to an increasing number of extreme weather events and pollution.
Learning, raising awareness, and collective activism can help us create a better, more sustainable future.
- We can learn about rainforests and rainforest animals. We can share appreciation and information with others
- We can choose to use a reusable water bottle and avoid single-use plastics
- We can ask people in power to make more sustainable choices on our behalf
- We can shop second-hand and reuse and recycle as much as we can
- We can make choices about the food we eat so that fewer rainforests are destroyed for our meals