12. Gray Wolf
The gray wolf or timber wolf can be found in the wilderness regions of North America and Eurasia. The gray wolf tends to be the apex predator of its home range and can be a fearsome predator to even the continents largest mammals. The gray wolf is also one of the most researched and written about species on the planet. Across much of North America, Northern Europe and Central Europe, there have been organized efforts to exterminate the wolf population for most of the last few hundred years. Significant conservation efforts to preserve this apex predator sprung up within the last 30 years, so only now are we starting to see its total species count increase.
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11. Galapagos Giant Tortoise
The Galapagos giant tortoise is the largest species of tortoise in the world and can way up to 900 pounds. Of the original 15 sub-species observed, 10 still live today in the wild. These giant marvels can live up to 100 years and are one of the longest-living vertebrates in the world. In June of 2012, the world mourned the passing of Lonesome George, the last remaining Pinta Island tortoise. Due to human activities and the introduction of invasive species to their fragile island ecosystems, the giant tortoises numbers significantly dwindled over the middle of century. Though Galapagos conservationists weren’t able to save the Pinta Island tortoise, they have achieved tremendous success over the past 50 years in the recovery of other giant tortoise species in the archipelago by removing vermin that destroyed their eggs and continuing to protect their habitat.
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10. Takhi – Przewalski’s Horse
The Takhi (or Przewalski’s horse) is a small wild horse that is a completely unique sub-species due to its 66 chromosomes while all other horses have 64. Historically, it called the plains of Mongolia its home range. The Takhi retreated into increasingly barren areas, eventually finding refuge near the few water sources just outside the Gobi desert. Unfortunately this is where the last Takhi sightings were recorded in 1969. Hunting and competition for grazing lands seemed to have sealed the fate of this horse as it was declared extinct by the end of the 1960s. However, the conservation efforts of zoos saved the Takhi from a dire fate as there are now over 600 Takhis today in the wild. It’s remarkable comeback can be directly tied to the last 12 living takhis which all takhis are now direct descendants of.
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9. Golden Lion Tamarin
The Golden Lion Tamarin or Golden Marmoset is a small monkey native to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil. They are currently an endangered species and among the rarest animals in the world. Human activity has been the primary driver threatening the tamarin, leading to the loss of forest habitat and population fragmentation due to agriculture and urban development. Their numbers dwindled to under 200 before serious conservation efforts and two biological reserves were established. Since then, and over the last 30 years, the number of animals in the wild grew from around 200 to 1,000.
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