10 Species Still Around That Might Not Be in 2030

As people around the world ring in a new decade, wildlife experts warn some animals which are at risk of extinction will be wiped out before its end.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps tab of wildlife under threat, over 6,000 species are critically endangered.

"There are literally thousands of species which could go extinct by 2030," Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Endangered Species Program of Center for Biological Diversity, told Newsweek. Some are "very much on the brink," she said.

Kai M. A. Chan, professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, told Newsweek: "One big category of animals most likely to go extinct by 2030 are species that we know almost nothing about—already-rare species that will blink out of existence without us having any real knowledge of their plight."

Chan explained: "These animals are more likely than most to go extinct because we're actually pretty good at saving animals we know are threatened. We're not good at preventing animals we barely know about from getting to the brink of extinction or even going extinct. There are far more animal species we don't know about than those we do."

Peter H. Raven, president emeritus of Missouri Botanical Garden, told Newsweek he and colleagues have estimated as many as 20 percent of all species might become extinct by the mid-century, and up to half by the end of the 21st century.

That would amount to some 4 million species, "but since the great majority of them would be unknown, it would be difficult to tell." As the number would likely rise decade by decade with an upwardly sloping curve, Raven predicts we might lose more than 500,000 of in the next 10 years.

Curry said conservation efforts can save species from this fate. So far, 46 species have been delisted for recovery, including 22 in the past five years, she said.

For instance, hunting and newly introduced predators left the world's rarest goose, the nene, teetering on the edge of extinction back in 1967, when there were just 30 left in the wild. Today there are over 3,000 statewide due to Endangered Species Act protections.

"Anyone can help fight extinction by contacting their elected officials and letting them know that they care about endangered species and think more should be done to protect them," urged Curry.

"Earth is experiencing an extinction crisis and governments worldwide are failing to respond appropriately. It is important to save animals from extinction because our fate is tied directly to theirs," Curry explained.

"Other animals are our housemates, and if the house becomes so unhealthy that our roommates start dying off, it's not going to be a safe place for us to live either," she said.

Below, Curry outlines some of the species most at risk of dying out before 2030.

Sumatran Rhino

These herbivorous mammals once saw their habitat stretch as far as the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in Bhutan and eastern India, Myanmar, Thailand, and are thought to have lived in Vietnam and China, and the Malay Peninsula.

In 1986, an estimated 800 Sumatran Rhinos lived in the wild, according to Save the Rhino, dropping to 275 in 2008. Some officials estimate there are now fewer than 100, with others fearing the figure could be as low as 30.

"Javan rhinos are also highly endangered with only 46 to 66 surviving as of 2008 at only one park in Indonesia," said Curry.

Sumatran Rhino
A stock image shows a Sumatran Rhino, which is at risk of going extinct. Getty

Lange's Metalmark Butterfly

After its habitat in the Antioch Dunes north of San Francisco was almost totally destroyed due to development and mining, this insect was listed as endangered in 1976, Curry said. Populations dropped from around 25,000 to 2,000 in 1977, and 154 in 1986. Conservation efforts saw its numbers climb to 2,342 in 1999, before declining precipitously to 28 in 2010. By 2013, there were 78 left in the wild.

"Development and mining have since been stopped, but invasive plants, fire, climate change and ecosystem disruption are still threats," Curry explained.

"Many other butterfly species are in danger of extinction with only small populations remaining including the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly outside Las Vegas, the Miami Blue butterfly from Florida, and the Dakota skipper butterfly from the Great Plains," she said.

great plains, dakota,
Horses stand on the plains of North Dakota. The endangered Dakota skipper butterfly is from the Great Plains. Ken Cedeno/Corbis via Getty Images

Māui dolphin

There are only 60 Māui dolphins left on the planet, and they live off the coast of North Island, New Zealand, according to Curry. These rare dolphins become entangled in fishing nets and die.

maui dolphin
Campaigners attend a protest to protect the critically endangered Maui's dolphin, in front of New Zealand's Parliament House in Wellington on May 2, 2012. Marty Melville/AFP/GettyImages

Red Wolf

Red wolves used to roam across the southeastern U.S., according to Curry. Now, there are only 12 left in the wild in North Carolina. Legal and illegal shooting is their biggest threat, as well as hybridization with coyotes.

"To save the red wolf, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to take proven-effective recovery measures like coyote sterilization and captive releases with pup fostering" argued Curry. The body should also find new areas for reintroductions of the animals, she said.

red wolf
A stock image shows a red wolf. Getty

Kauai Akepa

"This Hawaiian honeycreeper and several other species, including the I'iwi, Maui Parrotbill and Kauai creeper are on the brink of extinction because of climate change that is allowing introduced mosquitoes that carry avian malaria to reach higher and higher elevations on the islands," said Curry.

The Kauai birds are likely most at risk because they inhabit a lower island, she explained.

honeycreeper bird
A I’iwi sits on a tree in Hawaii in this stock image. Getty

Chinese Pangolin

"Lovingly called 'pinecones with legs' due to their odd but adorable appearance, pangolins are the world's only scaly mammal," said Curry.

All eight species of pangolins are under threat, with research suggesting Chinese pangolin populations have dropped sharply in recent years.

In China and Vietnam, these animals are eaten for their meat, while their scales are used in traditional medicine as they are thought to have curative properties.

pangolin
A stock image shows a critically endangered pangolin in the bush, pictured at Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Getty

Attwater's Prairie Chicken

A million of these birds used to live in the coastal prairies of Texas and Louisiana. But between 1967 and 2013 the population dropped from 1,118 to below 100, and by 2017 there were only seven left in the wild.

"Attwater's greater prairie chicken has primarily been threatened by loss of tallgrass prairie habitat from agricultural, urban and industrial expansion," said Curry. "Disease, parasites and severe weather may also have contributed to the species' decline."

Prairie Chicken
A stock image shows a Prairie Chicken. Getty

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow

After up to 85 percent of the grassland habitat where these birds live was turned into roads, housing developments, and used for farming and livestock pastures, their numbers plummeted.

"The population was estimated at 1,000 adults in 1997, 700 in 2008, 250 in 2014 then crashed to 84 in 2017," said Curry. "Most remaining grasslands have been degraded by fire suppression."

grasshopper sparrow
A stock image shows a grasshopper sparrow in the grass at Key West Florida. Getty

Vaquita

The world's smallest and most endangered cetacean, or aquatic mammal, the vaquita lives in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. "With likely only 10 individuals remaining in 2019, the vaquita may be extinct by 2021," said Curry.

"The tiny porpoise is killed in illegal fishing nets set to catch totoaba, a gigantic fish whose bladder coveted in China, as it is believed to have curative properties," she said.

 endangered vaquita porpoise
A stock image shows a vaquita porpoise swimming off the coast of Mexico. Getty

Alabama Sturgeon

Thanks to dams, pollution, and habitat destruction on the Alabama River, this fish has not been seen since 2007, according to Curry.

"It is one of many sturgeon species that are endangered," she said. "Sturgeon date back 250 million years. Several other fish species from the southeastern United States are extinct or nearly extinct including the slender chub from Tennessee and Virginia and the peppered shiner from Arkansas and Oklahoma."

alabama river
The Alabama River, where the remaining Alabama Sturgeon live. Raymond Boyd/Getty Images