Why Are Animals Endangered | Top 11 Causes of Endangered Species

Why are animals endangered? This is one of the questions that are often asked by students who tries figure out the root cause of the wave of extinction that is sweeping the earth. This article is an attempt to explain you some of the most probable causes about endangered species facing biologists worldwide. An animal is considered to be endangered when it deems to disappear within next twenty years or so without any conservative measurements. We should first analyze the process of extinction in order to understand why animals become endangered. According to biologists, extinction is simply a natural phenomenon that has been undertaking since the earliest of times. Referring to an estimate, about 99.9% of all plants and animals species have become extinct. If the extinction of species is undertaking under natural circumstances, it will allow other species to seize an ecological role of species becoming extinct. It follows that the dinosaur’s extinction offers a considerable opportunity to other mammals that were being suppressed in the age of Reptiles. Thanks to the dinosaur extinction, many reptiles now begin to occupy various ecological niches that were formerly engaged by dinosaurs. However, today the biggest concern is not the process of extinction, but the rate at which it is increasing, with the role of humans at the forefront.

Why Are Animals Endangered

One way to answer this question as to why do animals endangered is to inquire: Are there any characteristics of endangered or threatened animals that are not common with those of unthreatened species? If you come across a list of endangered animals, you’ll hit upon several animals that have some shared characteristics. Many of these include specified diet, large size, small population, commercial worth, habitats, and geographical distribution. For instance, large-sized mammals are always in need of large areas where they can easily meet nutritional and reproductive requirements. A deer may require a considerable area-size that covers thousands of acres of forested land to provide them an environment of natural habitat. Other mammals including elephants and bighorn sheep require large sanctuaries and national parks to live in.

Top 11 Reasons | Why Are Animals Endangered

Habitat Loss

The primary cause of endangerment is the loss of habitat or native lands of many animal species. All animals require water, food, and shelter to live in, just as we humans do. Humans are, however, extremely adaptable for they can generate food, preserve water, and seek shelter on their own from raw materials that are carried on their backs in the form of clothing. Animals cannot do this.

Certain animals are extremely specialized in their dietary and habitat requirements as compared to others. These animals are likely to be endangered soon after the loss of their habitats. However, some animals are highly adaptable as they rely on more than one habitat to survive.

Exploitation | Why Are Animals Endangered

Many animals experience direct exploitation as a result of which there is a considerable decline in their numbers. There are some places where humans were mainly held responsible for extreme hunting and poaching to meet their nutritional and commercial requirements altogether. Many animals were hunted to extinction and Audubon’s sheep is one of them.


As humans advance in machines, more and more animals begin to leave their natural habitats even if habitats are not damaged. However, still it is not clear as to whether humans played any role in a substantial wave of extinction in the prehistoric times.

why are animals endangered

Animals with Specialized Diet | Why Are Animals Endangered

Animals which rely on a particular diet such as frugivores (fruit-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters) have to travel great distances in search of prey as compared to those of herbivores (plant-eaters) or omnivores. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many carnivores’ mammals are dominating the endangered animals list. One such mammal is black-footed ferret which primarily relies on prairie dogs. These prairie dogs were hunted to extinction as they were seen by farmers’ real threats to the livestock. Consequently, the black-footed ferret is also at the verge of extinction.

Low Reproductive Output

Some mammals have really developed reproductive schemes that in part reflect their possibility of dying. Several small rodents, for instance, have become capable to litter several litters per year since they have many natural predators. Nonetheless, large hoofed mammals that have a longer lifespan and have few natural predators, normally produce only one offspring each year. This ensures an absolute balance between the number of dying animals and the number which female must produce. Thus, when humans attempt to change the natural balance between deaths and births by increasing mortality, numbers decline. Large mammals which are predominantly held in captivity are unable to reproduce quickly as they have low birth rates. Therefore, it will take a considerable amount of time to recover the numbers even with full protection.

Habitat Specialist | Why Are Animals Endangered

Animals that tend to occupy a limited habitat space become vulnerable when their habitats are widely separated in space. In these conditions, they will begin to inhabit in small populations which are susceptible to the natural disasters. One of the best examples is cave-dwelling bats as there are limited numbers of caves and of which vary internally that is to say, each cave has its own temperature, humidity, and other seasonal variations of these characteristics. As a result, bats living in one cave may not find similar environments of roosting and hibernating in other caves. Hibernating bats are more likely to be killed easily as they are helpless during this process.

Small Population Size

As a rule of thumb, animals with a smaller population are likely to be extinct as compared to those with larger populations. With the drop in numbers, animals are limited to few isolated populations which further increase the probability of becoming endangered.

why are animals endangered

Limited Geographic Distribution | Why Are Animals Endangered

Certain mammals have restricted geographic distribution as a result of which they are becoming endangered whenever their natural habitats are disturbed by humans. Oldfield mice are one of the best examples as they are now limited to small isolated islands off the coast of Florida. These animals once inhabited all throughout the range of sand dune habitats; however, humans have destroyed these habitats for recreational purposes thereby leaving these species at the stake of none.

Economic and Commercial Worth

It goes without saying that mammals which have real commercial worth for their furs, oil, meat, for using it in products, are rather more susceptible to hunting and poaching. In North America, for instance, marten, fisher, lynx, and beaver, are being hunted to extinction only to meet human’s primary needs.

why are animals endangered
Killing of Sharks for their Fins
Image Courtesy of advance.britannica.com

Pollution | Why Are Animals Endangered

All living things including animals are affected by environmental pollutants in one way or the other. One such example is that many animals in United States have died because they drank water from the pond polluted by cyanide, which is employed for extracting gold from low-grade ore.

Introduction of Exotics

Exotics are species that are typically non-native to a specific area. Humans have always involved in introducing exotic species to a particular area which have adverse effects on those native species.

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