Seven endangered South African species we should protect in 2020

The word “endangered” by definition means “a species seriously at risk of extinction“. Many animal species in South Africa are at risk and so it is our duty to protect them.

According to gviafrica.co.za, the health of an ecosystem is maintained by its plants and animals. When species become endangered, it is a sign of an ecosystem’s imbalance.

This balance is difficult to maintain and so the loss of one species often triggers the loss of others. The conservation of endangered species is important for humans as a well-balanced ecosystem purifies the environment, giving us clean air to breathe, a healthy water system to support diverse marine life, and arable land for agricultural production.

It also provides us with unique plants with medicinal properties, which serve as the foundation of our medicines. When ecosystems fail, our own health is at risk. When saving endangered species, we are ultimately saving ourselves.

In the name of saving as many animals as we can, here’s our list of seven endangered species in South Africa.

1. Endangered pangolins

According to briefly.co.za, pangolins are one of the most trafficked animal species in South Africa. The animal is illegally trafficked to Asia where its scales are used as medicine. Even though they tend to have a unique defence mechanism of rolling into a ball whenever they sense danger, human beings still manage to kill them.

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Image via: Adobe Stock

2. Oribi

Oribi is one of the most endangered species among the antelopes. This species is mostly found on the South African plains. The Oribi is at risk of extinction due to threats of habitat loss as well as poaching. To ensure that this species of antelopes still exists in the country, the Endangered Wildlife Trust has formed a group called Oribi Working Group which focuses on conserving the habitats of these African animals. 

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3. Endangered Cape Gannet 

These unique and beautiful birds are adapted to the coastal regions of Africa. Since their distribution is mainly on the coastal regions, their breeding has been restricted rendering them vulnerable. Their vulnerability is a result of over-exploitation of resources, especially due to human fisheries. Pollution poses another challenge to their existence. 

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Image via: Adobe Stock

4. Albany Adder

The Albany adder is one of South Africa’s snakes facing extinction. This snake is 30cm long and has a camouflaging tan-and-brown colour. The snake has become difficult to spot, especially after their habitats were destroyed in the Eastern Cape province. 

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Image via: @RainforestTrust Twitter

5. Endangered Knysna Seahorse 

This creature has the head of a horse and occurs in three estuaries in the country. These three estuaries are Swartvlei, Keurbooms and Knysna. Unfortunately, one of these estuaries in Knysna is being utilised for fishing, hence it poses a threat to the existence of these creatures. 

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Image via: @nandimgwa Twitter

6. Cape Vulture 

Most people overlook the importance of vultures. However, they hold great significance when it comes to cleaning the environment by eating the food remnants left behind by predators. This helps control the spread of diseases in the animal kingdom, and therefore their extinction could have a significant impact on the environment.

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7. Endangered Riverine Rabbit 

The Riverine rabbit stands as one of the most endangered mammals in South Africa. Due to its nocturnal nature, it can only exist in the Karoo region. The creature only survives in the deep silt deposits of the Karoo river. Existence of these creatures has been threatened by the vulnerability of habitat loss that has been altered by human cultivation and livestock farming. T

To counter the impact that is likely to cause the extinction of these creatures, the Endangered Wildlife Trust runs a programme, called the Riverine Rabbit Conservation Programme, in the areas that were once habitats to these precious creatures.

The residents in the region are also being educated on the importance of taking part in conservation stewardship. 

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Image via: Adobe Stock

Some ways we can save endangered animal species 

As an individual, you can make a difference by learning about and raising awareness about endangered species in your country and across the world.

A sustainable way to do that is to get involved as a volunteer, partnering with governments and organisations on existing projects.

Not only is this a great way to learn about wildlife conservation, but you will gain hands-on, professional field experience, which can be difficult to obtain.

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