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This is one of the most distinctive animals on the planet. African elephants are the largest of the three elephant species. Elephants have many unique characteristics, and the secrets of some of their adaptations are still being discovered to this day. Elephants live long and very social lives centered around a matriarch and her offspring. The illegal killing of elephants for ivory represents a serious and pressing threat to the future of this species.
Southern White Rhinoceros
These easily recognizable creatures are native to middle and southern Africa. They are some of the largest land-dwelling mammals in the world, reaching weights of up to 6,000 pounds. Like other rhino species, white rhinos are heavily poached for their horns. Powdered horn is used in traditional Asian medicine, supposedly curing a range of illnesses from fevers to cancer. Uncontrolled hunting in the colonial era was historically the major factor in the decline of white rhinos; however, hundreds of white rhinos are poached annually. They are particularly vulnerable to hunting due to their unaggressive nature and their occurrence in
Blue-throated macaws are often called barba azul in Spanish, meaning “blue beard,” because of the bright blue coloration covering their throats. They play an important role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers. These intelligent and colorful birds are critically endangered and threatened by habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.
Crowned lemurs, like all lemurs, are primates only found on the island of Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of Africa. Out of all lemur species, crowned lemurs are the most sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females look very different. They are an endangered species, threatened by habitat loss and are hunted for food and the pet trade.
Alpacas are a domesticated, social species that live in herds. Although they originated in Peru, they have now spread worldwide in human care. Although they share similar characteristics and are often mistaken for one another, alpacas and llamas are different species! There are four South American camelids: the alpaca and the llama, both domesticated, and the vicuña and the guanaco, both wild species that diverged from a common ancestor around 2 million years ago.
African Slender-snouted Crocodile
The African slender-snouted crocodile is a medium-sized crocodilian and uses its slender snout for catching fish and other relatively small prey in the water. This species has suffered declines in the wild due to development and human encroachment into the forested wetlands it occupies. It is also a target for the bushmeat trade.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise
Aldabra tortoises are the second-largest species of tortoise in the world and, like their larger relatives on the Galapagos Islands, this species is also restricted to a few islands north of Madagascar.
Eastern Indigo Snake
Eastern indigo snakes are the largest native non-venomous snake in the United States. Rather than relying on constriction to disable their wide variety of prey items, they simply overpower their prey with their muscular jaws and swallow it whole. Their conservation status is of concern because their preferred habitat, the longleaf pine forest, has been heavily fragmented by agricultural and logging practices.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are the largest venomous snakes the U.S. They are maligned and slaughtered, both opportunistically by rural citizens and systematically in locally promoted rattlesnake roundups. Despite their large size and the medical importance of the rare accidental bite to a human, these are quiet and reclusive snakes that do very little harm unless harassed or restrained.
Komodo dragons are Earth’s largest living lizards and are part of the large family known as monitor lizards.