5 Animals that Made it Off of the Endangered List

Conservation efforts are saving biodiversity.

The Panda is an example of a species that was once endangered but is now vulnerable. Photo by Ju Santana C.C. 2.0.

The Panda is an example of a species that was once endangered but is now vulnerable. Photo by Ju Santana C.C. 2.0.

It’s no secret that in order for our planet to survive, we need an array of species to fulfill different niches. However, when humans over hunt animals, destroy their natural habitats, or disrupt their environment, species can die out, or become extinct. This threatens the status quo of our planet, and the safety of all living organisms. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) created the “Red List” in 1964 to keep track of species that are threatened by extinction. Conservation organizations like the World Wildlife Fund use this list to determine their course of action. 


There are three categories to measure species that are threatened by extinction, from lowest risk to highest risk: Vulnerable, Endangered, and Critically Endangered. Because of the efforts of conservation organizations, as well as government acts (such as the 1973 Endangered Species Act), animals have had their endangered status lessened. Here are five animals that you might recognize.

Photo by David Ellis C.C. 2.0.

Photo by David Ellis C.C. 2.0.

The Giant Panda: Endangered to Vulnerable 

1. The Giant Panda, native to the bamboo forests of China, was once endangered. They are threatened due to loss of their habitat. Forest destruction to make way for roads in China means that Pandas lose access to bamboo, their main source of nutrients. Additionally, they are threatened by hunters who kill them for their fur. However, now there are more than 50 panda reservations in China, and the population has rebounded. 

Photo by La Chiquita. C.C. 2.0.

Photo by La Chiquita. C.C. 2.0.

Manatees: Endangered to Vulnerable

2. Manatees were also marked as vulnerable or threatened instead of endangered. Manatees feed on seagrass, which is found in shallow waters. This leaves them vulnerable to boats and jet skies. Conservations have been created to help protect Manatees from trash and boats. However, not everyone was enthused about the reclassification, as advocates think it could undermine the urgency to continue protection efforts for manatees. 

Photo by National Marine Sanctuaries.

Photo by National Marine Sanctuaries.

Humpback Whales: Delisted

3. Some populations of Humpback Whales were delisted from the US government’s endangered species list. In 2016, 9 out of the 14 populations of Humpback whales were delisted. Most whales are threatened by collisions with ships and entanglements in fishing gear. The entire species wasn’t delisted, as Humpback Whales are geographically separated and face different risks. The Marine Mammal Protection Act, and an international ban on whaling serve to continue protecting the species. 

Photo by J. Phillip Krone. C.C. 2.0.

Photo by J. Phillip Krone. C.C. 2.0.

American Alligator: Delisted

4. The American Alligator is found in Southeastern United States. The species was put on the endangered list in the 1960s because of hunters and habitat loss. However, after the Endangered Species Act prohibited hunting, the species was able to recover. In 1987, it was removed from the endangered list. 

Photo by Clive. C.C. 2.0.

Photo by Clive. C.C. 2.0.

The White Rhino: Delisted

5. The White Rhino is found in South Africa. The species was on the brink of extinction after poachers killed them to take their horns. Due to regulation of poaching and an effort to stop illegal trade, the species has since been removed from the endangered list. 





Even though these species have had their categories lessened, or have been removed from the list entirely, conservation efforts are needed to preserve the species and foster the regrowth of their population. Consider volunteering with organizations like the World Wildlife Fund to get involved. 






ELIANA DOFT loves to write, travel, and volunteer. She is especially excited by opportunities to combine these three passions through writing about social action travel experiences. She is an avid reader, a licensed scuba diver, and a self-proclaimed cold brew connoisseur. 




Black-Winged Mynah Birds are Critically Endangered, Despite Thousands in Captivity

A black-winged mynah bird on a branch in Kerala, India. Ambady Sasi. CC0.

A black-winged mynah bird on a branch in Kerala, India. Ambady Sasi. CC0.

Indonesia’s illegal pet trade is an old evil, with animals from tortoises to wild birds caught in its trap. For beauty, prestige, or simply the siren call of money, Indonesian wildlife has undergone massive unasked-for change, particularly because of its bountiful resources and impressive biodiversity.

Three similar species—black-winged mynahs, grey-humped mynahs, and grey-backed mynahs—are all coveted for their brilliant plumage as well for as their vocalizations, to the point that they are explicitly captured out of the wild for songbird competitions in Indonesia. According to National Geographic, around 40,000 live in captivity, while an estimated 500 remain in the wild.

Collectively, these three species are known as black-winged mynahs, and were once thought to be one species. Members of the starling family, these birds’ plumage is distinct, with their tails and parts of their wings being glossy black, while the rest of their bodies are white. They are able to make a range of vocalizations, from trills to chirps, which is one of their most prized attributes for people. In 2010, the status of the black-winged mynah was changed from “endangered” to “critically endangered”. It is estimated that their population shrank 80 percent in the last 10 to 15 years.

Indonesia overall is an epicenter for the illegal wildlife trade, and according to data from WWF-Indonesia, the country accounts that around 85 percent of the animals traded were from illegal hunting. The loss of key animals in the biosphere disrupts the food chain that the ecosystem has built up over millions of years. In turn, this damages human food sustainability, particularly for the foods we obtain from flora and fauna. For example, declining tiger populations causes the wild boar population to rise, which causes issues for farmers in the same areas. WWF-Indonesia is currently raising awareness of the world’s wildlife, as well as how the trade ultimately destroys what we all need to survive.

Indonesia has a long history of keeping birds as pets, even to the point of mentioning the prestige of owning birds in sayings. However, this has led to what some are calling the “Asian Songbird Crisis”. Capturing birds in the wild is cheaper than breeding them. On the other hand, breeding birds in captivity is at least legal. Though breeders are supposed to release 10 percent of the birds they breed back into the wild, this is rarely done, or if it is, it’s entirely possible that the birds could be released in the wrong areas. The crisis has become so rampant that prices have dropped low enough (to an estimated $73) for black-winged mynahs to become a common pet for the middle classes, according to National Geographic.

In April 2018, a revision was submitted to the Indonesian government for an overhaul of the country’s 28-year-old conservation law. Though the draft made some steps to curb the illegal wildlife trade, it also opened many loopholes, to the point where critics saw it as a regression, according to Mongabay. Though Indonesia added 919 birds to their protected species list this past August, revising it for the first time since 1999, nothing seems to have changed about their conservation laws.

Indonesia’s illegal wildlife and pet trade still has an uncertain future, with nothing more uncertain than the eventual fate of the species driven further to extinction, including the three that make up the collective black-winged mynah birds.


NOEMI ARELLANO-SUMMER is a journalist and writer living in Boston, MA. She is a voracious reader and has a fondness for history and art. She is currently at work on her first novel and wants to eventually take a trip across Europe.