Animal-lovers and intrepid naturalists will be intrigued to learn that a number of luxury cruise itineraries offer the chance to observe some of the world’s most endangered animals, both in port and on exciting excursions to ecologically-rich nearby areas. Unfortunately, a wide range of wildlife all over the world is currently classed as endangered or critically endangered, despite conversationalists the best efforts to preserve them. Therefore, now is the time to see some of these rare creatures, before it’s too late, so read on to discover where to find last remaining examples of these incredible endangered animals.
The Sumatran orangutan is one of only two species of orangutan anywhere in the world. Rarer than its Bornean counterpart, the Sumatran orangutan can only be found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, particularly around the verdant Bukit Lawang and Gunung Leuser National Park, feeding on a diet of figs, jackfruits, birds eggs and small invertebrates such as termites.
This famously intelligent primate has been observed using tools in the wild, which demonstrates its sharp intellectual ability. The orangutan will often use sticks and twigs to dig for termites or poke into a bees nest in order to acquire the honey within. This wonderfully bright species has been placed on the critically endangered list and in 2004 only around 7000 remained in the wild, which is why it is more important than ever to safeguard their threatened population.
With an average length of around 30 metres and weighing in at an unbelievable 170 tonnes, the blue whale is the largest animal ever known to have existed. Sadly, this remarkable aquatic mammal is also one of the world’s most endangered animals, after being hunted to near extinction throughout the 20th century. There are believed to be around 2000 left in the wild, with concentrations of blue whales spotted in several locations across the world, including the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Antarctica.
Despite their endangered status, blue whales have no known natural predators due to their enormous and intimidating size. Blue whales maintain their huge size by feeding on copious amounts of krill – up to 40 million a day! Interestingly, blue whales have been recorded producing four-note vocalisations or ‘whale songs’ in the wild. It is not yet known what these calls actually mean, but theories range from individual recognition of one another to locating large quantities of krill.
The critically endangered California condor is the largest land bird in North America and became extinct in the wild in 1987 due to poaching, habitat demolition and lead poisoning. In recent years, however, this mighty avian species has been reintroduced into the wild across the coastal mountains of northern Baja California in Mexico as well as northern and southern California in the USA. The California condor’s unique appearance – combining a bald head with jet-black plumage – makes it easy to recognise on wildlife spotting excursions.
Preferring a rocky, coniferous habitat, the condor feeds on the decaying meat of dead animals, ranging from goats to bears, often travelling hundreds of kilometres to find a meal. A government-approved recovery plan has been established to protect and preserve the California condor, so the future may still be bright for this majestic predatory bird.
Sometimes known as the owl parrot due to it striking resemblance, the Kakapo is a species of large, flightless nocturnal parrot endemic to the beautiful nation of New Zealand. This unique avian animal is relatively defenceless against New Zealand’s many predatory creatures, which, alongside human interference, has dramatically decreased the number of Kakapos left in existence. Only handfuls still live in the wild, with many surviving in protected conservational areas such as Little Barrier Island.
The Kakapo is usually herbivorous, with a diet consisting of plants, seeds, pollen and fruits. Although they cannot fly, these intriguing endangered animals are fantastic climbers and have also been known to parachute from high places with surprising grace and composure.
Despite once being the one of the most abundant species of rhinoceros in the world, less than hundred Javan rhinos still live in the wild and all of them can be found on the Ujung Kulon peninsula of Indonesia. Viewed as the rarest large mammal on the planet, the Javan rhinoceros succumbed to the same fate as many other endangered animals – over hunting.
This lumbering yet striking creature prefers a muddy habitat, often congregating at mud wallows, feeding on a diverse range of plant life including fruits, twigs and leaves. Javan rhinos can live for around 40 years in the wild, but are not suited to captivity and have not been encaged for well over a century – which I am sure will please many of the animal-lovers reading this blog.
(1) Robert Young – flickr.com
(2) Mike Biard – wikimedia.org
(3) Stacey – wikipedia.org
(4) Mnolf – wikipedia.org
(5) Jo Oh – wikipedia.org