The Amazon Rainforest has one of the highest levels of biodiversity on earth and is home to hundreds of thousands of animal, bird, and insect species. Unfortunately, this utopia of wildlife and vegetation is under attack and has been for some years now. The culprits? Humans.
Since 1970, almost 310,000 square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest have been lost due to human activity. The reduction has slowed in recent years as a result of positive action by South American governments, but it remains a problem. Logging and cattle farming are largely responsible for this vast amount of deforestation.
Nevertheless, the effect that this has had on the wildlife of the Amazon Rainforest is noticeable. Deforestation is not the only thing that causes animals to become endangered or extinct, climate change, illegal hunting, and contamination are also playing a role in destroying habitats and endangering animals. But deforestation is the leading cause of extinction in the Amazon Rainforest.
Every year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) publishes a list of endangered animals. This list contains thousands of species in the Amazon Rainforest that are in danger of becoming extinct if nothing is done to protect them. Here are a few of the Amazon’s precious creatures that might not be around for much longer.
This adorable creature is one of the three big animals visitors hope to see in the jungle, along with jaguars and the giant otter. The hoofed mammals are surprisingly nimble given their bulky appearance and they feed on clay licks found in the jungle. Tapirs have come under threat as a result of illegal hunting and due to their habitat being destroyed by human activity.
Among the cutest animals in the Amazon Rainforest, giant otters can grow up to 1.7 meters long and can be found in the waterways that run through the jungle. They live in families consisting of two monogamous parents and often two or three offspring. Dependent on both the land and the water for survival, the giant otters are rapidly dying off as a result of deforestation and water contamination.
The most noticeable feature of the Uakari monkey is its unusual, bright red face. The monkeys derive their name from the Uakari tribe that once lived in the Amazon but is now extinct. This creature can often be found lounging in the trees, feasting on fruits hanging from branches. Unfortunately, extensive deforestation has destroyed much of their natural habitat and put the monkey on the endangered list.
Another cheeky tree-dweller has seen its number dwindle due to the expansion of farmland in the Amazon and the building of new roads through the region. The white-cheeked spider monkey may not be swinging through the trees for much longer if conservation efforts are not ramped up.
So far we have looked at land animals, but we must not forget our winged friends that soar up above. The hyacinth macaw is an astonishingly beautiful bird, with feathers in rich blues and green. The main threat to the survival of this magnificent bird is the illegal pet trade. Unfortunately, there is a market for these birds due to their splendor and this is reducing the numbers found in the wild.
There are thousands of endangered species in the Amazon Rainforest, but there are also dozens of excellent conservation programs in place. These conservation projects aim to reverse the damage done by human interference and replenish the rainforest with species that were previously dwindling. The programs have been largely successful so far and we can only hope this trend carries on in the future. Rainforest Cruises works with Rainforest Trust, an organization designed to protect the rainforest and its ecosystems.
The Rainforest Trust describes itself as “a world leader in the protection of tropical ecosystems and wildlife”. To surmise briefly how it works, the Rainforest Trust buys land in the most threatened tropical forests. This stops loggers and other polluting and deforesting forces from getting hold of it. Once it has the land in its possession it establishes partnerships with local communities and engages them in conservation projects. The Trust prides itself on making sure that 100% of every project gift they receive goes directly to fund vital conservation action.
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