What makes the snow leopard an endangered animal?


               A snow leopard is a large cat that is native to the mountain areas of Central and South Asia. These wild cats can be spotted sporadically in the alpine and subalpine zones of China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and Mongolia, at heights between 3000 to 4500m.



               In size, snow leopards are slightly smaller than others of its family. They have stocky bodies with thick fur and small, rounded ears, all of which together, help the animal to minimize heat loss.



               Although the animals are agile and powerfully built, their population is in great danger. The main reasons for such falling numbers are hunting, habitat loss, and retaliatory killings. With the reduction in the number of its prey like the Argali sheep, ibex, and hares, these leopards are forced to hunt domestic animals in its nearby areas.



               As a result, locals kill them in retaliation. The leopards are also poached for their skin for making fur coats.



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Why is the sei whale an endangered animal?


            The sei whale is one of the fastest whales in the world that inhabits all oceans and adjoining areas, except those in polar and tropical regions. They are the third largest rorquals, followed by blue whales and fin whales.



            Sei whales are sometimes seen travelling alone, or in pods of up to six individuals. A normal individual is about 14 to 20 metres long, with a weight up to 26 tonnes. Females are a little longer than males. If unharmed, these animals can live till the age of 65.



            As they are at the top of the food chain, whales have an important role in the overall health of a marine ecosystem. But today, they have a very insecure existence due to human activities.



            The biggest threat faced by the sei whale population is commercial whaling. Besides, there is something called scientific whaling, carried out by countries like Iceland and Japan. It means killing whales for scientific research.



            There have also been events of mass deaths of sei whales in the past due to pollution, and the presence of toxic substances in water.



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Why the Grevy’s zebra is considered an endangered animal?


            The Grevy’s zebra is an important member of the horse family. Also known as the imperial zebra, they are the most endangered of the zebra species. Historically, they were seen in the semi-arid scrublands and plains of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Kenya in East Africa. But now, their range is confined to a few parts of Southern Ethiopia, and Northern Kenya.



            Compared to its relatives, Grevy’s zebras have larger ears and narrower stripes. They feed mostly on grass, roots, and tree bark, and also on hard seeds. It is believed that these zebras can live without water for about three days.



            During the 1970s, the population of Grevy’s zebras was thought to be 15,000. But at the start of the 21st century, this number came down to 3500.



            Today, there are estimated to be around 2500 in the wild. In captivity, there are around 600 individuals surviving. The main reason for the fall in population is poaching. The skin of these zebras is of great value in the global market.



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What makes the giant otter rare?


               The giant otter is a carnivorous mammal native to South America. It is a social animal that lives with family groups, supporting up to eight members. They are mostly seen in freshwater rivers and streams that are seasonally flooded. Sometimes, these animals are also spotted in freshwater lakes and springs.



               The primary cause of the decline of the giant otter population is poaching. They have been hunted for decades, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, bringing their number to less than 5000. It is the velvety pelt that makes a giant otter an attractive target. Besides, the animals are extremely easy to hunt as they are active throughout the day. And by nature, otters are inquisitive and fearless towards human beings. This makes it even worse for them.



               Other factors are habitat loss and degradation caused by mining, logging, and over-fishing. Quite a lot of giant otters are killed by fishermen who consider them to be a menace.



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Why the Rothschild’s giraffe is considered an endangered animal?


            The Rothschild’s giraffe is a subspecies of Northern giraffes. It is also known by the names Baringo giraffe and Ugandan giraffe.



            With just around 1500 individuals in the wild, it is yet another animal that has an endangered existence. Isolated population of this animal can be seen in savannah, grasslands, and the open woodlands of Uganda and Kenya. The strange name of these animals comes from zoologist Walter Rothschild, who was the first to describe the species.



            What makes a Rothschild’s giraffe different from others in the family is its appearance. It has a specific type of coat pattern, with light brown patches and creamy lines in between. Also, it has no markings below the knees, making one feel that the animal is wearing white stockings!



            The biggest threats to the lives of Rothschild’s giraffes are poaching, expansion of human population and habitat loss.



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