What is an endangered species?
Well, the adjective already contains a clue to its meaning… enDANGERed!
An endangered species in fact is a species of animals that risks to become extinct. This can be either because there are only a few animals left, or because the species is threatened by a changing environment (deforestation for example, or hunting).
When we say that a species is extinct we mean that the last member of that species has died and that those animals have disappeared, never to reappear again. For example the mythical bird Dodo, or the Javan Tiger.
Other species are not yet extinct but critically endangered. This means that they have a very high risk of becoming extinct in the near future and that there is little hope left. Some Mountain Gorilla, for example, or the Javan Rhino.
Some species are said to be endangered, this meaning that, although the risk of becoming extinct is high, there is some hope that their number might increase.
The Blue Whale, for example, the Giant Panda, the Amur Leopard, the Tiger, Indian Rhinos, the Tasmanian Devil, just to name some of them. But the list is longer.
Other species are considered to be vulnerable, meaning that they face a risk of extinction in the medium-term future: the Cheetah, the Lion, the Polar Bear, the Komodo dragon.
In some cases animals, though not immediately threatened of extinction, depend on conservation programmes, like the Leopard Shark or the Killer Whale.
The Solitary Eagle, the maned Wolf, the Tiger Shark and the Okapi are near threatened, that is, they may be considered so in the near future.
Should you want to learn more have a look at the Green links for Arkive.org and WWF endangered species.