20 Animals You Can Adopt and Protect Online

The wildlife we know and love is in decline around the world. According to the WWF Living Planet Report, the population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have seen an alarming average drop of 68 per cent since 1970.

In the last 50 years, human population growth, urbanisation, a huge increase in global trade and consumption have led to wildlife loss. The loss of natural habitats as a result of expanding cities, overfishing and climate change are key issues among many.

However, wildlife conservation charities are doing their best to curb wildlife loss and protect remaining species. By adopting an animal online, you can do your bit too.

African elephant

African elephants face a huge number of threats in the wild, including the ivory trade, poaching and habitat destruction as humans build on their homelands. With approximately 415,000 in the wild, these gentle giants are now classified as "vulnerable" according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

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An elephant is seen at Murchison Falls National Park in Pakwach, Uganda. Giulio Origlia/Getty Images

Snow leopard

These beautiful wild cats have evolved to live in some of the harshest climates on Earth and are found in China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and Mongolia. Their population is dropping, with a total of between 4,000 and 6,500 left in the wild.

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Stock photo: A snow leopard. THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images

Orangutan

Orangutans are critically endangered, with an estimated 104,700 Bornean orangutans and 13,846 Sumatran left in the world, as well as just 800 Tapanuli. These Great Apes are under threat from the illegal wildlife trade and are killed for food or in retaliation for destroying crops as they move into agricultural areas.

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An orangutan is seen at Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia. Dimas Ardian/Getty

Penguin

Climate change is reducing the amount of sea ice in parts of the Antarctic Peninsula, which is causing habitat loss for many penguin species. Global warming and pollution also affect their food source too.

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A emperor penguin and a pair of chicks walk on Snow Hill in Antarctica Getty

Polar bear

According to the WWF, polar bear numbers may decline by 30 percent by 2050 because of the rapid loss of sea ice. With their food also in decline, hungry polar bears may stray into urban areas, leading to conflict between people defending themselves.

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A stock image shows a polar bear and a cub Getty

Giant panda

There are only around 1,860 giant pandas left in the wild today, in part because of infrastructure like roads being built through their habitats. Increased tourism is also impacting numbers too.

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Two giant pandas eat bamboo at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, China Tao Zhang/Getty

Amur leopard

Amur leopards are critically endangered, with only around 84 remaining in the wild, mainly as a result of poaching and habitat loss. In 2012, Russian government declared a new protected area called the Land of the Leopard National Park, marking a major effort to save the world's rarest cat.

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The Amur leopard can be found in the Russian Far East Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

Jaguar

The largest cat in the Americas, Jaguars are affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, human wildlife conflict and the illegal wildlife trade. These cats are so elusive that it is difficult to know how many are left in the wild, but numbers are dropping.

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A jaguar strolls through its enclosure at a zoo in Central France. Getty

Tiger

These iconic cats are in decline, with only around 3,900 left in the wild. Conservationists estimate that wild Tiger populations have declined by around 95 percent since the beginning of the 20th century.

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Indochinese tigers are threatened by poachers hunting for wild meat to sell to restaurants and body parts to use in traditional medicine Jimin Lai/AFP/Getty Images

Sea turtle

Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered. They have been killed for their meat, shells and skin, and are also threatened by habitat loss and as bycatch. Climate change has affected turtle nesting sites as it alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings.

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A loggerhead sea turtle Getty Images

Gorilla

Gorillas share 98.3 percent of their genetic code with humans, making them our closest cousins after chimpanzees and bonobos. After years of decline, the creation of new protected areas has meant the population of mountain gorillas has increased in recent years. In 2018, gorillas were reclassified from critically endangered to endangered.

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A juvenile gorilla leans on the shoulder of an adult male on the slopes of Mount Mikeno in the Virunga National Park ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

African lion

Numbers of wild African lions are thought to have declined by more than 40 percent in the past three generations because of habitat loss and conflict with humans. These giant cats are now classified as vulnerable, with only 20,000 thought to remain in the wild.

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A lioness is photographed in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Dolphin

It's hard to imagine that dolphins are under threat, but many species are. As a result of whaling and other human and natural influences, the Yangtze river dolphin and the Atlantic humpback dolphin are critically endangered and in danger of becoming extinct.

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The Indus River Dolphin is endangered, with less than 2,000 in the wild Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

Orca

Orca are under threat in the wild from waste left behind by fishing vessels, including fishing nets and plastic. Chemical pollution and a reduction in food stocks due to overfishing has also affected orca numbers too, as well as the practice of keeping the whales in captivity for human entertainment.

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A stock image shows an orca with its baby Getty

Pangolin

There are eight species of pangolins found across two continents and all of them range from vulnerable to critically endangered. Although they are under threat from the illegal wildlife trade, moves have been made to protect the animals from being poached for their meat and scales. In June 2020, China increased protection for the native Chinese Pangolin to the highest level.

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A White-Bellied pangolin a the forest in Ghana. Courtesy of Eye of the Pangolin film

Cheetah

Cheetahs are at risk and listed as vulnerable according to the IUCN's Red List, as a result of habitat loss, poaching and conflict with humans. These once wide-ranging animals now exist in fragmented groups across Africa.

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Cheetahs are listed as vulnerable Getty Images

Black rhinoceros

All species of black rhino critically endangered and three subspecies have been declared extinct, including the western black rhinoceros. In South Africa, poachers kill two rhinos on average every single day.

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A female Black Rhino in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Ethiopian wolf

Ethiopian wolf, also known as the Simien jackal or Simien fox, is native to the Ethiopian Highlands and classified as endangered. They face a number of threats, including disease, habitat destruction, human conflict and hybridisation with domestic dogs.

Moon bear

Moon bears have long, black fur with a distinctive yellow crescent across the chest and large elongated ears. Moon bear populations face the risk of extinction due to loss of habitat through deforestation, but they are also exploited for their bile, which is used as an ingredient in traditional medicine. As a result, moon bears are farmed in horrific conditions in China and other countries.

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A moon bear Rick Wakemen

Chimpanzee

Our closest cousins, we share around 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees and like us, they are highly sociable animals. They are under threat from poaching and infant chimpanzees are frequently taken alive and sold in cities as pets to wealthy families.

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A chimpanzee eats a mango in a tree National Geographic/Bill Wallauer