Although more and more people are putting all the effort in protecting nature and its animals, too much other people still only think about money and wipe out one specie after another. Here is a top 10 of mammals you should go and see before they are gone.
By now everyone surely knows that by far the human race is the most dominant species on earth. This dominance unfortunately is so extant that thousands of other species are in big problems right now. Humans take the animals habitats so they can turn it into their own habitat. Humans grow crops that the animals can’t eat, or if they can they will be shot to not do so. Human catch them for illegal animal trade to gain quick money or even just shoot them for fun. For this and many other reasons many animal populations are decreasing rapidly. Some animals are decreased almost into brink of extinction. So for seeing these animals in their own habitat and not in a zoo you can’t wait too long anymore. We made a top 10 list of mammals you have to see before they are gone.
1. Mountain gorilla
The mountain gorilla is made famous by a lady called Diane Fossy and the movie based on her life called Gorillas in the Mist with Sigourney Weaver. She dedicated her life in protecting this majestic man ape. A dedication so fierce that she finally got killed for doing so. Probably due to her dedication we are decennia later still able to visit our close relatives in their natural environment. Actually their natural environment is the only place we can see the mountain gorilla because not any zoo in the world has this animal locked up in cages. In fact the Mountain Gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla.
The mountain gorilla can only be found in three countries in Afrika. The first one is the small nation of Rwanda. A country also famous for its genocide of the Tutsi tribes by the Hutus in 1994. The second one is Uganda, proudly called the Pearl of Africa. And the biggest of the three countries is the Democratic Republic of Congo which in fact has three species of Gorilla, the Western Lowland Gorilla (the one to be seen in many zoo’s), the Eastern Lowland Gorilla and the Mountain Gorilla. The part of Congo where the mountain gorillas are to be found is home to conflicts for many decennia and not the safest place to visit them. The most popular place to visit the Mountain Gorillas is the Rwanda Volcanoes National Park. This one is also a bit cheaper than the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.
Although you visit the animals in a National Park it isn’t like a normal walk in the park. These apes got their names of the fact they live in the mountains. So while seeking the animals you could be hiking in the mountains up and down for quite some hours. The trails for sure aren’t flat. Besides that, one of the names of the National Parks is impenetrable forest. A good physical condition and a good health is a must. In fact; While having a cold or a fever it is forbidden to visit the animals. Humans and apes are closely related and can transfer diseases on one another. There are just little over 300 specimens of these animals left and while visiting these animals can help preserve them due the high income it also can mean the end of the population while taking too big risks.
2. Saiga antilope
This odd looking mammal is also an animal in our list that is critically endangered. Some small herds of these antelope species with a surrealistic snout can be found in the steppes and semi-desert regions of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and in Mongolia. Best spot to go for a Saiga tour is the Kalmykia region of Russia south of Volgograd and west of Kazakhstan. This vast lands are also a great spot for birding.
In total there are approximately around 50.000 saigas still alive with around 18.000 in Kalmykia. Though populations amounts are still declining rapidly despite many breeding programs.
3. Giant panda
The giant panda is one of those animals everybody knows about. This black and white bear is the famous symbol of the WWF. Unfortunately it also is one of the many endangered animals. The animal only can be found in a few mountain ranges in the central part of China. Encountering these animals in the wild is a huge challenge. One of the biggest possibilities to see these animals in a wild but protected environment is with Natural Habitat Adventures who offers a Wild China Panda tour of in total 12 days in combination with the WWF. No guarantees to actually see them up close in the wild, because there are only around 1600 specimens living in the wild (and around 300 in captivity). But there is a guarantee to see the bottom of your wallet up close, because with a price of above $10.000 it isn’t a cheap tour.
Want to see them in a semi natural environment a visit to for example Dujiangyan Panda Base close to Chengdu is a way cheaper possibility with an entrance fee of around $10. Funny thing to know is that these animal officially belongs to the order of carnivores, they are bears, but in fact eat for 99% bamboo.
4. Amur tiger
There are a couple of subspecies of the tigers. The most numerous of the tiger subspecies that didn’t go instinct yet is the Bengal tiger in Sri-Lanka and India. Another subspecies is the Amur tiger that also is called the Siberean tiger of which around just 360 specimens still can be found in the wild.
One of the best places to find them is in the Durminskoye reserve in south-east Russia. Russia Tiger Tracking offers tours and accommodations for exploring this unexplored area to find these majestic animals and other rare species like the Amur Leopard.
5. White rhinoceros
Although the number of white rhinoceros were increasing for a while, the population of these large animals are under big pressure again. A bigger demand for the horns of these animals to make useless, for example Aphrodite medicines raises the amount of poached animals. The animals are killed and the horns shipped to mostly south-east Asian countries. Newsflash… the horns of these animal exists out of Keratin. Just the same material like for example our fingernails and hair. No need to cut the horns, just cut the fingernails and chew on it.
Still a 100% chance to see these animals in its natural environment is in Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya. Some big herds roam the fields of this fenced National Park at the border of the city of Nakuru, just a couple of hours driving from Nairobi and its airport. Many tour operators offer tours to this beautiful national park where also the rare rothschild giraffe can be found.
6. Philippine tarsier
While the gorilla is the biggest primate in the world the Philippine tarsier is one of the smallest primates. Small but with a remarkable appearance is the Philippine tarsier. This monkey has a size of just between 8.5 to 16 cm which due to this small size makes it difficult to spot. What is making it even more difficult to spot is the fact that this animal is nocturnal, which means it mostly is active during the dark hours. His huge eyes makes sure it has a perfect night sight. Another interesting fact is that the animal cannot move his eye balls and that he has the biggest eyes compared to its body size of all mammals.
It is only found on the south-eastern islands of the Philippine archipelago. One of the best places to encounter these cute little creature is at the Philippine Tarsier sanctuary at the island of Bohol.
7. Polar bear
Another bear on our list of animals to see before they are gone is the polar bear. Found in the arctic regions of the three northern continents makes it the animal with the most spread habitat in our list. Though its range is huge this animal is more and more under pressure due to climate change. Melting glaciers and less food sources puts this animal in a difficult position.Polar bear tours can still be done in many places in Alaska, northern Canada and Spitsbergen for example.
8. Bornean orang utan
Another primate in our list is the Borneon orang utan, there also is the Sumatran orang utan. There is an estimation of around 50.000 species that still are living in the wild. But the rapid declining of their natural habitat puts this animal under pressure. The forests still are cut in high speed to replace it with African oil palms to provide the huge demand of palm oil for humanity.
There are several rehabilitation centers where you can see the animals like the one in Sepilok. Though one of the best chances to see the animal in its true wild environment is in Kinabatangan at the Malaysian side of Borneo or Lamandau at the Indonesian side.
9. Ring-tailed lemur
Lemurs are a special species of primates that can only be found in the island of Madagascar. One of the most popular ones are the Ring-tailed lemur that can be found in many zoo’s in the world. Although in the zoos these animals are popular and well populated with thousands of individuals in the wild it is threatened by habitat destruction, pet trade and even bush meat. Destruction of habitats makes that populations are scattered and don’t have enough fresh genes to keep healthy populations. Best places to look for these animals in the wild is in Andohahela, Andgingitra, Isalo, Tsimananampetsotse, and Zombitse-Vohibasia in the southern parts of Madagascar.
10. African wild dog
The last one in our list is the African wild dog. A predator sometimes called painted dog because of his variable colored coat. Once these animals could be found all around the African continent. Now-a-days the population declined to less than 2500 specimens in the wild. These animals normally have a huge territory where they roam and hunt. But more and more natural habitat is taken away from them and turned into land for cattle. Local farmers kill or poison these animals to protect their livestock.
Now best chances to see them is in the Kalahari desert and the Okavango Delta is Botswana, Kruger National Park in South Africa, Selous National Park in Tanzania and Tsavo National Park in Kenya.
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