There are now 6,264 endangered animal species on Earth, 2,524 of which are critically endangered, according to the Red List of Threatened Species managed by International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
The problem is, just presenting the numbers tends not to carry much impact.
For example, the Red List also includes 32 animals that are now extinct in the wild, but still surviving in captivity, such as Scimitar oryx or Père David’s deer.
At least everyone has an idea of what a deer looks like and probably wouldn’t want a whole species of them to disappear.
Yet probably nothing is more compelling than looking at the babies of the very species that are on the brink of extinction—almost certainly because of human activity.
Indeed, the usual suspects among causes of extinction are fragmentation, deforestation, and hunting—all well within the human purview.
And so it is that 731 animal species are now categorized as extinct.
Yet there is also good news to report.
Many endangered species have been successfully bred in captivity and later reintroduced into the wild. Many more have such initiatives underway.
The last couple dozens of Père David’s deer, for example, were wiped out during the Boxer Rebellion in China at the onset of the 20th century. Yet a few of them were sneaked to Europe before that, gathered by Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford, and nurtured into a herd by his descendants until they were reintroduced to China in 1985. Now, though still managed in captivity, there are thousands of Père David’s deer strolling the Middle Kingdom again.
And so the lesson reads that by human hands the treasures of nature may not only perish but flourish as well.