With diverse landscapes ranging from tropical jungles, monsoon forests, and mountains to deserts and urban territories, Asia is home to a vast and amazing variety of animals.
Among its pride are the Asian elephants, Sumatran rhinos, Indian rhinos, pandas, Komodo dragons, Bactrian camels, and Japanese macaques.
However, in this largest continent of the world, fauna species may also be disappearing the fastest and in the highest numbers due to unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, urbanization, and other human activities.
For the year 2022, Earth.Org presents Asia’s top ten critically endangered species belonging to the Animal Kingdom:
- Snow leopards. There are only about 4,000 – 6,500 left of these big cats, which are being hunted for their fur, bones, and other body parts that are utilized in the manufacture of exotic leather products. The rapid decline of their population is also due to poaching for Chinese medicinal purposes and human-wildlife conflict.
- Asian pangolins. The body parts of these animals are likewise used in traditional medicine to treat arthritis and asthma. They are also regarded as an Asian delicacy, while the West is interested in them for their leather industry.
- Russian sturgeons. Twenty-seven species of sturgeons are now listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Russian sturgeon is of special concern since they are a most valuable catch for poachers and hunters. Prized as a delicacy, the price of this fish can reach up to US $10,000 per kilogram.
- Wild Bactrian Camels. These camels are the 8th most endangered mammal in the world. It is estimated that there are less than 1,000 of them left after being hunted almost to extinction. Then, there’s also the impact of climate change on their existence as droughts intensify and deserts further expand.
- South China tigers. It was in 1987 when their remaining number was recorded at around 30 – 40 individuals. This is why experts doubt that this sub-species could survive on its own in the wild.
- Red-headed vultures. Improper waste disposal, rapid deforestation, and unintentional poisoning are among the reasons for the increase in the mortality rate of these birds. But experts also believed that the use of the veterinary drug diclofenac to treat livestock diseases was the primary killer of these vultures.
- Sumatran elephants. One of the subspecies of Asian elephants, it is estimated that there are only about 2,400 to 2,800 of these elephants left due to the destruction of their habitat. The oil palm industry and deforestation are the major factors behind the loss of these elephants’ homeland.
- Sumatran orangutans. One-third of the wild population of these intelligent animals was lost in the Borneo Island fires of 1997-98. However, palm oil production is the leading cause of the loss of their habitat as thousands and thousands of hectares of land are continually converted to support this industry.
- Eastern Black Crested Gibbon. There are less than 250 remaining of these lesser apes in the wilderness of China. Their population in Vietnam has likewise suffered from habitat destruction due to illegal logging, illegal and unsustainable use of forest resources, and agriculture.
- Javan rhinos. These creatures once thrived in China, Bengal, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Sumatra, and Malaysia. Now, there are only 76 of them living in the wild, and they remain vulnerable to poaching, deforestation, other human-related activities, diseases, and natural calamities. The Ujung Kulon National Park, the only place where these rhinos can now be found, is at high risk of devastation as well by tsunami or a major eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano.