Endangered Animals in the Rainforest
Endangered Animals of the Rainforest
Every year, more and more of the rainforest is destroyed by both natural means and preventable means. Unfortunately, the larger the loss of tropical forests, the more homes of animals that are being lost as well. Here is a brief look at some animals that have found homes in the rainforest. The only protection we can give them is to provide them with more areas where they can call home, to prevent these endangered animals from becoming extinct.
Rhinoceroses, due to their enormous size, require a large amount of area to roam. One of these, the Javan Rhinoceros lives in the tropical forest and is now considered critically endangered. Of the five species of rhinoceroses, this is the most threatened with only 35 left in the wild. They currently reside in Ujung Kulon National Park, where they are protected. The park is located in Java, Indonesia, which is where they inherited their name.
They used to run free in Vietnam; unfortunately, the last known Javan rhinoceros that was wild in Vietnam was poached in 2010. Since then, there has not been any known sitings in this area.
A Javan Rhino weighs anywhere from 1,984 - 5,071 pounds, stands at about 4'7" - 5'8" tall, and is 10-10.5 feet long. Both males and females have a single horn in the center of their head that measures about 10 inches. They are noted for their armor-plated appearance, due to several loose-folds in their dusky gray skin.
Pic of Sumatran Rhino
The Sumatran rhinoceros is another endangered rhino with fewer than 400 in the wild. Though not as endangered as its cousin the Javan rhino, it is still one of the rarest large mammals in the world. They are found living in isolated dense mountain forests. There have been sitings in Malaysia and Indonesia, although there are rumors they may also be living in Burma.
These are the smallest of the rhinos measuring somewhere between 4 feet and 5 feet. They weigh around 1,760 pounds and are about 8-10 feet long. The Sumatran rhino has small patches of short dark, stiff hair and their hide is a dark red-brown color. The hair cakes mud to the body, which helps them stay cool.
They are also unique due to having two horns rather than one. The longer horn grows about 31 inches, whereas the smaller horn grows to 3 inches. Unfortunately, it is their horns that have caused them to be a subject for poaching. In Asia, they use the horns for medicinal purposes, which is why these animals are so sought after. Middle Eastern countries also use the horns for their own purposes. Many have turned them into decorative dagger handles.
Sloths are another animal that relies on the tropical forests to survive. These animals, notorious for being the slowest mammal on earth, are differentiated by how many prominent claws they have. They are split between two-toed and three-toed sloths. Both are so sedentary, that their main defense is the algae that grows on their fur, which camouflages them in trees. They sleep 15-20 hours a day, and even when they are awake, they rarely move. They even have their babies in the tree tops. Sometimes after a sloth dies, they will remain suspended from a branch.
Although they will rarely be on land, when they are, they are quite clumsy and do not move very well. They also have no protection when they are on land from predators such as big cats. Surprisingly, they are quite good swimmers, and will on occasion fall into water where they will have to swim out. The one natural advantage they do have is their ability to turn their necks at 270 degrees. This allows them to look around quite well.
Since they are too slow to catch food, they are herbivores, eating fruit and leaves from the trees. Since they are unable to go to a pond for a drink, they rely on the water they get from the leaves and fruit. They weigh less than 10 pounds, and grow less than two feet in length.
South Island Kokako
Of the endangered animals of the forest, the kokako brings the most joy with its loud, melodious song. Their song carries through the forest and can be heard long ways away. They usually sing in pairs, and will begin as the sun is rising. All the other birds enjoy this song and will join them.
Since the 1970s, the bird was believed to have been extinct. Fortunately, in 2003, there was a sudden increase in the amount of Kokako's and they were sited. Although even with the sudden increase, this was not significant enough to replenish their numbers. There are two subspecies, the North Island Kokako and the South Island Kokako. Both are endangered. There are many programs, such as captive breeding and trans-location, that are in place to help renew their population.
Part of why they became endangered is because they are not strong fliers. They usually glide from place to place, and not for long periods of time. Unfortunately, with their dying numbers, kokakos have found that a territory, which with a typical bird would have both a male and female pair, you may find have paired up males with males, since a male/female pair is not always possible. They are the only bird known to follow this behavior. It is believed to be a result of the dying female population. This is cause for concern, since they will not be able to mate unless they each have a match.
Photo of Panda Bear
The Giant Pandas
The giant panda, known for its love for bamboo, is a very rare bear that lives in a remote, mountainous region of central China within the rainforest. They eat twelve out of the twenty-four hours in a day, eating as much as twenty-eight pounds of bamboo in one day. Sometimes they will need to climb as high as 13,000 feet in order to reach their food of choice. They are herbivores, so they will occasionally eat rodents or birds, as well.
In the wild, they may live as long as twenty years. They are about four to five feet tall, and weigh around 300 pounds. They also have a very keen sense of smell, which allows males to avoid one another, and yet to mate with the females. Although pandas may give birth to twins, they will only care for one of the cubs. The cubs are born all white, and will not gain color until they are much bigger.
As with all large animals, it takes a lot of land for them to survive. That is why there are only 1,000 left in the wild, although around a hundred are in captivity, usually as a very popular zoo attraction, due to their vivid beauty.
How to Save Endangered Animals
The more our world is covered in trees, grass, and plants, the more homes we are giving our animals. There are so many ways we can help give homes to the animals around us. As you often hear, we need to continue to reduce, reuse, recycle. This will help tremendously, since it prevents us from destroying the land that is already here.
Another is by encouraging growth in our own backyard, plant a tree, plant a garden, opt out of using cement, choose stone where small creatures can crawl like insects. Also, you can donate to your favorite animal preservation site. Worldwildlife.org is an awesome site where you can actually adopt most any endangered animal, giving money to help preserve that animal's habitat. Plus you get great gifts for donating. Need more great ideas? Here are some:
- Recycle plastic, tin, and paper. Some schools collect paper for you!
- Instead of writing on one side of a piece of paper, write on both sides.
- When you leave a room, reduce the energy you are using by turning off the lights.
- Use timers on your faucets, lights, etc.
- Use reusable water bottles, rather than prepackaged water.
- Use a towel, rather than paper towels.
- Plant a tree.
- Join an Adopt An Animal Program.
- Grow a garden.
- Watch less TV and reduce the electricity.
- Have bird feeders.
- Don't catch and keep wild animals, they are meant to stay in the wild.
- Don't litter.
- Be careful when setting fires, especially in hot dry places.
Be creative, there are hundreds of ways that you can protect our earth. Feel free to share some of your ideas.
© 2012 Angela Michelle
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