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8 Animals That Are No Longer Endangered

by Kirsten Howard

In September 2016, almost 50 years of constant breeding and conservation, the giant panda was removed from the endangered species list. Once a common sight in southern China, the panda’s number dropped dramatically due to poaching and skin trading until the 1980s, when the Chinese government began to cracked down on its persecution. Now, there are just under 2000 giant pandas left in the world—a 17 percent increase since 2002.

It’s not the first time a species has been dragged back from the brink. Here are eight other animals that have fought their way back from oblivion—with a lot of help from protected status, conservation laws, and dedicated biologists.

1. THE AMERICAN ALLIGATOR

It may seem ludicrous now that alligators are so plentiful in the United States, often turning up in gardens and on screen as a popular way to die in horror films, but once upon a time, the humble alligator was on the verge of extinction, thanks to the popularity of its skin as material for shoes, jackets, and bags.

During the late 1960s, the alligator was added to the Endangered Species Preservation Act. Twenty years later, they were well on their way back from their dwindling numbers, and in 1987 were declared fully recovered [PDF].

2. THE WHITE RHINO

South Africa’s white rhino went from discovery to near-extinction in just 75 years. In the 1800s, European settlers annihilated the population for sport, and the species was thought to be completely destroyed. But in 1885, 20 remaining white rhinos were discovered in a remote location in Kwazulu-Natal. They were protected and bred for more than a hundred years, and there are now a robust 20,000 white rhinos in the wild.

3. THE GRIZZLY BEAR

The undisputed apex predator of the western United States, the grizzly bear was once on the verge of disappearing from the country forever. In the 1970s, however, when it was discovered that there were only about 140 left, the grizzly was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1975. Now, there are around 1200 wandering around Yellowstone and the Rocky Mountain West—and about 50,000 in the world. They're doing so well, some say they should be taken off the endangered species list. 

4. THE SIBERIAN TIGER

The Siberian tiger—the biggest cat in the world, native to Russia, China and Korea—was heavily hunted until the mid-1940s, when Russia finally banned killing tigers. The Russian population has steadily risen from just 40 to around 500, but China and Korea haven’t seen one around for ages.

5. THE ISLAND FOX

The island fox, which is endemic to California's Channel Islands, suffered a 90 percent population decrease in the 1990s, when pesticide use wiped out bald eagles on the islands. Eagerly replacing the fish-loving bald eagles were their fox-hungry counterparts, the golden eagle—which quickly set about demolishing the cat-sized island fox.

It took a huge conservation effort to bring the island fox back from near-extinction, as bald eagles were reintroduced, golden ones relocated, and feral pigs spread around for prey—all while the foxes were bred in captivity to increase their numbers.

The operation has been enough of a success that three subspecies of island fox have been removed from the endangered species list. One remains on the list but has has been reclassified as "threatened."

6. THE GOLDEN MONKEY

Brazil’s golden lion tamarind makes its home in the Atlantic rainforest near the bustling populations of Rio and Sao Paolo. Consequently, the monkeys' numbers dwindled to around 200 after 93 percent of the rainforest was cut and cleared. Conservationists and government programs have struggled since the 1980s to boost the monkey’s numbers using a variety of methods, and the population has steadily risen to about 1000. However, the population must double before it'll be removed from the list.

7. THE WOOD STORK

A large American wading bird, the wood stork’s population has dropped by 90 percent since the 1930s, landing it on the endangered species list in. Thanks to cooperation between governments and conservation groups in restoring wetlands in the southern U.S., the wood stork population is back up around 6000. Its status was upgraded to "threatened" in 2014.

8. PRZEWALSKI'S HORSE

You might imagine there are plenty of wild horses roaming around the planet right now, but actually the horses we tend to think are wild are domesticated horses that have escaped or been released from protection. There is only one true kind of wild horse left on the entire planet—and that’s Przewalski’s horse.

Found as far back as 20,000 years ago in cave paintings, this horse is the ancestor of every horse we see around these days, but a combination of human domestication and environmental issues meant that by the 1960s, they were considered extinct. Just nine remaining horses from zoos have been used since then to recolonize their old habitat in Mongolia, China, and the Ukraine (where they can be seen roaming around the former site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant). Today there are about 50 animals. With such small numbers, they're still considered endangered.

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Animals
Why Male Hyenas Have It Worse Than Females
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A life of hunting zebras and raising young on the savanna isn’t half bad for a female hyena. Sadly, the same can’t be said for their male counterparts. As MinuteEarth explains, things take a downturn for the males of the species once they hit adolescence. No female in their pack will mate with them, a behavior scientists believe evolved to avoid inbreeding, so they head off in search of a different group to join. After dealing with vicious hazing from their new clan, they file in at the bottom of the rank and wait for other males above them to die so that they can slowly gain status.

Even after rising through the hierarchy, the most a male hyena can aspire to is being second place to the lowest-ranking female. Thanks to their bulky build and aggressive behavior, female hyenas enjoy a dominant position that’s rare in the animal kingdom.

After watching the video below, head over here for more facts about hyenas.

[h/t MinuteEarth]

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Art
A Beached Whale Sculpture Popped Up on the Banks of Paris's Seine River
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In Paris, dozens of fish varieties live in the Seine River. Now, the Associated Press reports that the famous waterway is home to a beached whale.

Rest assured, eco-warriors: The sperm whale is actually a lifelike sculpture, installed on an embankment next to Notre Dame Cathedral by Belgian artists’ collective Captain Boomer. It’s meant to raise environmental awareness, and evoke "the child in everyone who still is puzzled about what is real and what is not,” collective member Bart Van Peel told the Associated Press.

The 65-foot sculpture has reportedly startled and confused many Parisians, thanks in part to a team of fake scientists deployed to “survey” the whale. One collective member even posted a video on social media, warning Parisians that there “may be others in the water” if they opt to take a dip in the river, The Local reported.

The whale sculpture is only temporary—but as for Captain Boomer, this isn’t their first whale-related stunt. Last summer, the collective installed a similar riverside artwork in Rennes, France, and they also once strapped a large-scale whale sculpture to the back of a truck and drove it around France.

[h/t Associated Press]

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