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Top Ten Endangered Animals of Sub-Continent

Disclaimer: None of the photographs used in this article are by the authors. These photographs have been used for the sole purpose of information, and are taken from websites of wild life protection organizations, and news organizations. If you are the photographer who owns any of these photos, contact us and we will credit it to you.

Have you seen the heart wrenching video by Greenpeace Canada where a little girl is scared and worried when Rang-Tan, a baby orangutan, comes in her bedroom and starts breaking her things? The girl asks Rang-Tang why she is breaking things, to which she replies that humans have entered and destroyed her home – the jungle, and now she is scared too. Here is the YouTube link to the video if you haven’t seen it. Grab a box of tissues before clicking on it!

The truth is that human beings are the most dangerous of creatures to ever live on the planet Earth. We are destroying almost every type of life on the planet; aquatic, wild, and even birds. Today, things have gotten so bad, that there are nearly 2,000 species of animals and birds already on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. And this is not just a Western or developed world phenomenon. Here in Pakistan and India there are a large number of species that have been labeled ‘endangered’ by the wild life organizations around the world. Endangered species are at the risk of becoming extinct which means that they are gone from this world forever. Let’s look at ten such beautiful creations of God, and vow to ourselves that we will make an effort to protect them from extinction.

#1 Markhor (Scientific Name: Capra falconeri)

This stunning animal is also the national animal of Pakistan, and what a shame is it that it is already red listed, meaning it is endangered to become extinct. Found in locations as exotic as themselves, Markhor can be seen in Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza, Kashmir, and the area of Chitral bordering with Afghanistan. These mammals already have a life span of around 12 to 13 years, over the top of which they are coveted by hunters from all over the world. In January 2019, Americans paid $92,000 to the Pakistan’s government to be allowed to hunt a Markhor. Although Pakistan has made hunting Markhor illegal, there is one scheme, called the “trophy hunting’ whereby a hunting trophy license is issued to the highest bidder and allows for hunting a single Markhor. 80 percent of this bidding money is distributed among the local community, and 20 percent is kept by the wildlife department.

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#2 Snow Leopard (Scientific Name: Uncia uncia)

Just looking at these majestic creatures, our hearts should bleed at the fact there that are less than 2,500 mature breeding males of snow leopards left in the whole world. They are typically found at the elevation of 3000 to 4000 miles, and in Pakistan they can be found in Karakoram mountain ranges, Gilgit-Baltistan, Himalayas, and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. The Pakistani population of snow leopards has come down to as low as 200 to 400 approximately. Their habitats are being endangered by poaching, pollution, and hunting and by the continued expansion of houses for human beings.

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#3 Houbara bustard (Scientific Name: Chlamydotis undulata)

This magnificent bird has not only become endangered as a species but it has also caused political rows in Pakistan many times. Houbara bustard is a rare breed of migratory birds. They travel in thousands every winter from Central Asia to the arid plains of Southern Pakistan. They are found in the Tharparkar region of Pakistan. Although like Markhor, Pakistan has illegalized the hunting of houbara bustards as well, but still every year special permits are issued to the dignitaries from the Middle East to hunt them. To the Arabs they are not just exciting hunting sport, but they also relish the meat of these birds. According to some estimates, approximately 2,000 birds are killed every year as part of this hunting.

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#4 Long-billed Vulture (Scientific name: Gyps indicus)

Also called as Indian Vulture, this bird is locally known as Giddh. If you are familiar with Pakistani Urdu literature, you might have come across many evil, conniving and preying characters might be compared with this innocent poor endangered species. The only unpleasant part about this bird is that it preys almost entirely on dead animals. What many people forget while expressing despise for this creature is that Vultures are crucial for the survival of a natural ecosystem. Since they prey on dead animals, they save the environment in innumerable ways that humans cannot possibly hope to imitate. After an alarming decline in their population in the nineties, good news came in 2012 that their numbers are stabilizing. But as of 2017 there are still much less Long-billed vultures left in Pakistan than ecologically sufficient, and the risk of them becoming endangered is still not over.

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#5 Balochistan Black Bear (Scientific name: Ursus thibetanus)

Also known as Pakistan black bear, this is actually a sub species of the Asian black bear. They are usually present in Balochistan Mountains – Takht-e-Sulaiman and Toba Kakar, and Kalat, and Ziarat. Although ferocious as any bear, this sub-species has a lovely crescent-shaped mark on its chest, giving it the title of ‘moon bear’ as well. Another adorable feature of moon bears is their love for bananas, even though they can happily settle for Indian olives as well. Deforestation and loss of their natural habitat have now put them on the verge of vanishing from our country. The hunting practices by circus professionals as well practitioners of Chinese medicine are taking further toll on their already reduced numbers.

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#6 Indus River Dolphin (Scientific name: Platanista gangetica)

Dolphins are like water puppies or water kittens. They play with balls, do tricks, shake their tails, and actually play with babies. How heartless then humans have to be to push such an adorable creature to the point where they might stop existing altogether. Found in four rivers of India and Pakistan, Sutlej, Jhelum, Chenab and Ravi, there are estimates that only approximately a thousand of these delightful creatures are left. This is so despite the governments of both Pakistan and India recognizing the Indus River dolphin as their National Aquatic animal. They live in fresh water which means that the water development projects, dams, and barrages are a direct threat to their lives. They are also hunted by fishermen for food, and also for extracting oils that sell at exuberant prices in health and beauty shops.

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#7 Indian rhinoceros (Scientific name: Rhinoceros unicornis)

This glorious beast has many names; Indian One-horned Rhino, Asian One-horned rhinoceros, and Greater One-horned rhinoceros. It has an armor-like skin, can weigh up to 2.7 tonnes, and can quickly turn and even jump, despite its bulky appearance. Previously frequently found at the northern part of the subcontinent including Pakistan, now they are more concentrated only in the small areas of India and Nepal. An effort was made to reintroduce the species to the Pakistan lands but it failed and since then it has not been tried again. Poaching horns is one of the biggest reasons for the decline in the number of Indian rhinoceros. It is estimated that there are only 2,600 of these solitary animals left in the world.

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#8 Bengal Tiger (Scientific name: Panthera tigris tigris)

This royal species, considered as the national animal for both India and Bangladesh, has been under the threat of extinction since 2008. Referred colloquially as the ‘Big Cat’, 70 percent of Bengal tigers are said to be settled in India. Smaller populations of this regal being are also found in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar. There are 2,500 or so Bengal tigers left in the world. Human interference and poaching has endangered this stunning animal, which is further worsened by the destruction of tropical evergreen forests, mangrove swamps and grass jungles. Are you aware that this tiger’s roar can be heard from over a mile’s distance?

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#9 Lion Tailed Macaque (Scientific name: Macaca silenus)

Found in the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats in Southern India, and tiny, isolated locations within them, this active species of monkeys are now down to 2,500 in global number. Like many other treasured animals, these primates are also on the receiving end of hunting brutality. Their natural habitat is also under duress from constantly expanding human geography along with pollution rendering their living space uninhabitable. Consequently, today these monkeys are often found in smaller numbers in isolated locations. They have a shiny coat of hair, with a white lion-like mane. They have a narrow dietary niche and require consistent supply of fruits.

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#10 Green Sea Turtles (Scientific name: Chelonia mydas)

The final entry in our list of endangered species is another one from subcontinent’s lost treasures. Their diet changes at different stages of their lives, and they can live up to eighty years or longer. This reptile is different from its brothers in the way that it is the only sea turtle that is strictly herbivorous as an adult – meaning they only eat grass and algae; even though younger Green Sea turtles do have a taste for worms, aquatic insects, and young crustaceans. They may stay close to the coastlines, on and around islands, and in protected shores. In Pakistan, they can be seen in beach areas of Sindh and Balochistan. This dazzling species is endangered from practices like killing and illegal collection, as well as water pollution. The greatest threat to them, however, comes from commercial harvest for food and eggs. According to some estimates, less than 90,000 nesting female Green Sea Turtles are left in the whole world.

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