16 Incredible Animals That Came Back from the Brink of Extinction
Efforts to protect multiple species have yielded great successes in the past several decades. Find out the animals that have lived to breathe another day.
There were a pathetic 20 panthers left in Florida when the species was granted federal protection in 1967. Development was a major threat to this animal’s survival, as was (and continue to be) collisions with automobiles and fear among humans willing to shoot them in the name of “safety.” The Florida panther has rebounded to an estimated 280 individuals, but conservationists point out that two additional, genetically distinct populations are essential to their continued survival.
Once the Atlantic population of this majestic marine mammal was hunted to extinction, things looked grim for two other populations in the eastern and western Pacific. But as ThisIsInsider.com reports, though the eastern group has plummeted into critically endangered status, the western group managed to make it off the list in 1994 and now seems to be thriving.
San Quintin kangaroo rat
Courtesy San Diego Natural History Museum
How did this wee rodent manage to survive extinction? It’s a mystery. By 1994, it was thought to be completely annihilated, as no one had seen a single one of these critters since 1986. But in 2008, four of these adorable rats were accidentally re-discovered by researchers in Baja, California, Mexico. The good news: Now that we know they’re still among the living, scientists can get to work devising a conservation plan for them.
Aleutian Canada goose
When members of the fur industry began raising foxes in Alaska, there were dire consequences for the Aleutian Canada goose, which escaped fox populations had hunted down to 790 individuals by 1975. A series of conservation measures resulted in a rebound; the goose was de-listed in 2001 and by 2011, estimates put its population at 111,000.
Before there was even a federal Endangered Species Act, the American alligator was considered near-extinct, thanks to hunting and extensive habitat loss. A top Everglades predator, it’s essential to keeping the ecosystem in balance—a job it was able to reclaim once its population recovered enough, by 1987, for it to be removed from the endangered list.
This beautiful animal has had a contentious relationship with humans, who hunted it nearly out of existence, for generations. Conservationists have fought—and fought hard—to bring its 300 survivors of continuous purges back up, although grey wolf numbers will likely never reach their peak of over 2 million. Still, there is some reason for optimism; a 2013 species count found nearly 4,500 wolves living in the Lower 48—including in Yellowstone National Park. But efforts to restore and maintain them continue. Don’t miss these 23 facts about animals that you have all wrong.