An endangered species, according to Lexico.com, is one that is at serious risk of extinction. When an animal becomes extinct, it no longer exists on Earth. At the time of this writing, there are presently sixteen animals listed on the WorldWildlife.org website as being critically endangered, meaning they are on the brink of extinction. With proper conservation efforts and support, animals can be brought back to healthy numbers, and can continue to live for generations to come as part of Earth’s vast ecosystem.
Here are ten creatures that were brought back from being endangered through the efforts of conservationists and governments working to protect their habitats and wellbeing.
10. Giant Panda
In 2016, the giant panda was downgraded on the global list of species who are at risk of becoming extinct to “vulnerable” from “endangered.” This was done by governments in collaboration with conservation organizations. The two sides worked together to create integrated networks of giant panda reserves, as well as nature corridors that can connect previously isolated panda populations. This, coupled with other efforts, succeeded in increasing the giant panda’s population on Earth.
9. Southern White Rhino
Sadly, the northern white rhino is presently on the brink of becoming extinct. There are only two known left on Earth, and they are female, living in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, the rest having been poached to death for their horns.
The southern white rhino was once believed to be extinct, but then a group of them was found living Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa. This group of 100 rhinos was found in 1895, and since then, authorities have been working to protect the animals and increase their numbers. The efforts have resulted in success, and this species of rhino is now the only one of all five types of rhinos that is not endangered.
8. Louisiana Black Bear
A black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) may not be something you want to cuddle up with as you go to sleep, but you might with its toy look-alike. The Louisiana black bear is rather cute with its big ears, and thankfully in 2016, the US Department of the Interior declared that it was no longer an endangered species in the US. Around the turn of the century, in the early 1900s, hunting black bears was often done for sport, which reduced its numbers drastically.
7. Gray Wolf
The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced in 2019 that the gray wolf was being taken off the Endangered Species List in the country. Not everyone agrees that this species no longer needs extra protection from humans in order to thrive successfully, however.
The current debate over how to support the gray wolf represents ongoing tensions between farmers who raise livestock, conversation efforts and hunters. Gray wolves can prey on farm animals, making them an unwanted presence in some states. In the 1970s, however, the gray wolf population dipped to critically low levels.
6. Stellar Sea Lion
These sea lions live mostly in the Gulf of Alaska and in the Aleutian Islands. They are an important subsistence resource for Alaska Natives, who hunt them for their meat, fur hides, oil, among other things. In 1990 this animal was listed as an endangered species, and the stellar sea lion was reclassified as being “not at risk” in the US in 2013.
5. American Crocodile
This formidable species was considered to be endangered back in the 1970s in the US, but has now recovered its numbers considerably. It is now listed as vulnerable. In the US, the American crocodile lives exclusively in South Florida, and it can also be found inhabiting parts of Cuba, Jamaica, and southern Mexico, as well as Central and South America.
4. Gray Whale
Gray whales were removed from the Endangered Species List in 1994. In the days before electricity, whales were hunted for their blubber which was used to produce oil that was burnt in lamps. The gray whale has also long been hunted by populations around the world for its meat.
3. Northern Brown Kiwi
This long-beaked bird is found in New Zealand, and was once listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is now considered to be vulnerable, as populations have grown due to conservation efforts. Northern brown kiwi eggs have been rescued from their natural setting in the forest, so they can hatch away from predators. The bird is still considered to be at a high risk of extinction, however.
2. Bald Eagle
There was a time a few decades ago when spotting a bald eagle in the US was a rare thing to do. It is still a special moment to witness one gliding through the wilderness, but thankfully this majestic bird is now no longer on the Endangered Species list in the US. It is still protected under both the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but it is not at risk of disappearing forever, at least for the moment.
1. Monito Gecko
This reptile lives on Monito Island in Puerto Rico, and was listed as endangered in 1982, as it was being eaten by black rats. The rats have now been eradicated from the island leaving the geckos to thrive, with a population of up to 11,000 now living on the island.