5 Species That Actually Defied Extinction


Amazing Species with a Penchant for Survival

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for any animal species to survive in the wild. Pollution, the growing human population and global warming all pose direct threats to the animal kingdom. Despite their best efforts, scientists, biologists and conservationists have seen thousands of species come and go over the years. Thanks in large part to the work of the Endangered Species Act, a number of high-profile animal species have managed to defy such a grim fate. Mother nature together with a bit of human intervention managed to revive these hapless creatures on the brink of their own demise. Learn how these resourceful animals with help from their human friends managed to outsmart death even against the most abysmal odds.

Whooping Crane



Angelic and full of grace, the whooping crane is among the most beautiful animals on the face of the planet. Nearly 5 feet tall with a hefty wingspan, these stunning creatures are one of only two crane species native to North America. Because of their gorgeous elongated feathers, whooping cranes have always been in high demand and short supply. Despite the U.S. making it illegal to hunt whooping cranes in the early 1900s, their population plummeted. There were only 16 whooping cranes on record in 1941.

Luckily conservationists intervened and relocated the remaining birds to a breeding sanctuary in 1976. Today, their numbers are still pretty dismal, currently at around 100 birds in total. Without much of a community, ecologists are reteaching the birds how to fly south for the winter using the flight patterns of ultra light aircrafts.

American Gray Wolf



When human beings started cultivating livestock in pens, things turned bleak for the American gray wolf. Food became scarce and hunters and farmers began killing the gray wolf every chance they got. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the American gray wolf became virtually extinct everywhere save for Alaska and Northern Minnesota.

At last the Endangered Species Act took effect and the remaining wolves were relocated to Isle Royal, a remote nature preserve off the coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Biologists also fostered a community of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park. By the 21st century, the American gray wolf population had experienced a major rebound. There are an estimated 5,000 gray wolves roaming Canada, Yellowstone and parts of the North Midwest.

Philippine Forest Turtle



Absent throughout much of the 20th century, the Philippine forest turtle has been on the verge of extinction for more than 100 years. Every time it looks the end of the line for these adorable amphibians, they somehow manage to turn things around. After not being able to locate the Philippine forest turtle for more than 80 years, biologists finally found a small group of them biding their time on the shores of Palawan, a thin strip of an island in the Philippines.

While these googly-eyed turtles are still sought after for their incredibly durable shells, the Philippine Forest Turtle Project is still doing its best to keep what’s left of the population out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, we might see the last the Philippine forest turtle in just a few years.

Variable Harlequin Frog



It’s amazing how one fungus can nearly wipe out an entire species. The Variable Harlequin Frog was thought to be extinct throughout the 1990s. A lone pathogen, spread by the chytrid fungus, was thought to be the nail in the coffin for the Variable Harlequin Frog. Several endangered species of frogs throughout Costa Rica and Panama were considered long gone due to the poisonous nature of the pathogen.

Despite evidence that suggested that the Variable Harlequin Frog was to be seen no more, two researchers found two of them in the deep forests of Costa Rica in 2003. These brightly colored amphibians seem to have grown immune to the toxic chytrid fungus. It’s just another reminder that nature is full of surprises.

Siamese Crocodile

Siamese freshwater crocodile on ground


It’s hard to get too upset over the death of one of nature’s most ruthless predators. Like some of the other animals on this list, the Siamese crocodile was considered long gone at the turn of the 21st century. Right around the time that researches thought the croc to be extinct, a small population was spotted by the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia.

Once prolific throughout all of Southeast Asia, the Siamese crocodile population is now limited to just 400 animals. The construction of hydroelectric dams continues to be a major challenge for the Siamese crocodile. Local groups are doing their best to make a home for all that’s left of their species.

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