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    18 Animals Who Really Need Our Help Right Now

    A WWF report out today shows that wildlife populations worldwide have declined by 52% since 1970, mostly thanks to humans. Well done everyone.

    1. African lion (Panthera leo) / Anup Shah / WWF-Canon

    In Ghana's Mole National Park, the lion population has declined by over 90% over 40 years. This is thought to be due to people killing lions in retaliation to human-lion conflict. / Anup Shah / WWF-Canon / Anup Shah / WWF-Canon

    2. African forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis)

    WWF-Canon / Carlos Drews

    Forest elephant population sizes declined by more than 60% between 2002 and 2011, mostly because of increasing rates of poaching for ivory. Thanks to habitat loss, the elephants are now restricted to just 7% of their historic habitat. / Bruce Davidson / WWF-Canon

    3. Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) / Andrew Parkinson / WWF-Canon

    There has been a 100-year decline in wild tiger numbers, from around 100,000 in 1910 to as few as 3,200 in 2010. Habitat destruction and poaching of tigers for the illegal wildlife trade seem to be to blame. / Francois Savigny / WWF-Canon

    4. Common dolphin (Dephinus delphis)

    Chris & Monique Fallows /

    The short-beaked common dolphin has been in decline in the Mediterranean sea since the 1960s. Between 1996 and 2007, numbers in the Ionian sea declined from 150 to 15 individuals. It's probably down to overfishing in the area reducing the amount of prey available for the dolphins.

    5. Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) / Mark Carwardine / WWF-Canon

    Populations of black and white rhinos (below) have declined by an average of 63% between 1980 and 2006. Demand for their horns is the biggest threat, and rhino poaching is increasing in South Africa. The number poached for their horns rose from 13 in 2007 to more than 1,000 in 2013. / Andy Rouse / WWF-Canon

    White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)

    Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon / Andy Rouse / WWF-Canon

    6. Curlew sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)

    Peter Prokosch / WWF-Canon

    Many migratory shorebird species are in decline in Australia. One site in Southern Australia saw a 23% population decline across all species from 1982 to 2011.

    Curlew sandpipers have seen a particularly large decline. One study monitored them at seven sites in Australia and found a decline from 37,500 individuals in 1982 to 7,500 in 2005.

    The birds migrate over long distances and it is thought that the loss of their habitat at stopover sites on their migration route could be causing their decline.

    Hartmut Jungius / WWF-Canon

    7. Hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock)

    Dr. Axel Gebauer /

    In Bangladesh, populations of the endangered hoolock gibbon declined by more than 50% between 1986 and 2006 as a result of habitat destruction.

    8. Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis)

    Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

    Ethiopan wolves are critically endangered. Their population experienced a 60% decline between 1987 to 1992 thanks to a rabies outbreak. Numbers dropped to 11 individuals in 1992, but recovered to 50 individuals by 2000.

    Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

    9. European eel (Anguilla anguilla)

    Erling Svensen / WWF-Canon

    The European eel is classed as critically endangered and is in widespread decline. It's threatened by changes to freshwater habitat which prevent it migrating. Disease and overfishing are also threats.

    10. Leatherback turtle (Demochelys coriacea)

    Carlos Drews / WWF-Canon

    The leatherback turtle has declined in both the tropical Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In Las Baulas National Park in Costa Rica, for example, it declined by 95% between 1989 and 2002. This decline was mainly due to turtles being caught by accident during commercial fishing, but numbers have also been affected by development around the nesting beaches.

    Roger Leguen / WWF-Canon
    Juergen Freund / WWF-Canon

    11. Grey partridge (Perdix perdix)

    David Tipling / 2020VISION /

    Farmland birds in the UK, such as the grey partridge, have declined by 50% between 1970 and 2012, mainly as a result of changes in agricultural management that affect the birds’ breeding habitat.

    12. Harbour seal (Phoca vitullina) / Alex Mustard / WWF-Canon

    Phocine distemper virus (PDV) particularly affects seals, and PDV epidemics are thought to have caused significant declines in harbour seal populations. But PDV does not seem to entirely explain long-term decline. Local factors like the killing of seals in the Moray Firth to protect salmon farms may also have an impact. Between 2001 and 2006, the population in Orkney and Shetland declined by 40%.

    Jan van de Kam / WWF
    Staffan Widstrand / WWF

    13. Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)

    Visuals Unlimited /

    From 1975 to 1995, hellbender salamander populations declined by about 77% in five spots in Missouri in the US, and declines have been observed across its habitat. The exact causes are unknown, but it is thought that agriculture and the recreational use of rivers resulting in lost habitat might be the main culprits.

    14. Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) / Tony Heald / WWF-Canon

    The population of hippopotamuses in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo, declined from 29,000 in the 1970s to 1,515 in 2003. The main threat is hunting. / Anup Shah / WWF-Canon

    15. Scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) / Jeff Rotman / WWF-Canon

    Populations of two species of hammerhead shark – the great and scalloped hammerhead – along the Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline, South Africa, showed declines of around 40% between 1978 and 1999. The decline is thought to be down to direct exploitation and the sharks getting caught up in commercial fishing. / Doug Perrine / WWF-Canon

    16. Meadow / Orsini's viper (Vipera ursinii)

    WWF-UK Media Centre

    These vipers are endangered. Eleven populations have declined sharply and eight of them across UK, France, and Italy have lost more than half their population between 1990 and 2009. A combination of factors, including habitat degradation and loss of prey, is probably to blame.

    17. White-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis)

    WWF-Pakistan/Uzma Khan / WWF-Canon

    Between the early 1990s and 2000, numbers dropped by 99% in white-rumped vulture and 97% in long-billed and slender-billed vulture populations. Livestock drug diclofenac causes kidney failure in vultures, and is a major cause of their decline.

    18. Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)


    The rapid decline of the wandering albatross has been driven largely by incidental catch in long-line fisheries. One population, from Bird Island, South Georgia, declined by 50% between 1972 and 2010, according to data from the British Antarctic Survey.

    Wim van Passel / WWF-Canon / Barry Bland / WWF-Canon

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