(ENDANGERED SPECIES/ANIMAL PICTURES) We shared some exciting news with you recently with our report on the saola sighting in Vietnam. After 15 years without a trace, a camera trap in the Central Annamite Mountains managed to snap a photo of one of the Earth’s rarest mammals.
What’s even more thrilling is the saola isn’t the only elusive creature being discovered. Thanks to strategically placed, motion-sensitive cameras and amazing advancements in technology, other rarely seen endangered animals have also been spotted.
There are less than a few hundred of these antelope-like, double-horned oxen living in Vietnam. The saola was first discovered in remote mountains near Laos in 1992, but had not been seen in the wild since 1998. After being photographed in September, animal conservationists recruited local forest guards to remove any illegal hunting snares in the area—the greatest threat to the saola’s survival.
2. Snow Leopard
Native to the Central Asian mountains, the endangered snow leopard is a rare sight, with just around 6,000 left in the wild. This little cutie was captured on a camera trap last year prowling the mountains of Tajikistan with his/her sibling and mother on a camera trap set-up by Panthera, a wild cat conservation group. These amazing animals are in dramatic decline due to illegal poaching by hunters for their beautiful fur and body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
3. Giant Squid
The mystery behind the ultimate sea legend may be solved! For the first time ever, a giant squid, the creature believed to have inspired the Norse myth of the sea monster known as “The Kraken,” was caught on film in its natural habitat. After rigorous research, scientists last year tracked the the massive invertebrate, with its oversized eyes and huge body, to an area about 600-miles south of Tokyo. Here, a three-man crew in a submersible descended the dark, cold depths of the Pacific Ocean for more than 2000 feet to capture this history-making footage.
Now for a definite awww moment! This rarely seen oncilla was caught on a camera trap in Bolivia’s Madidi National Park. The adorable little guy is the smallest feline roaming South America’s lowlands. Hardly ever seen—never mind photographed—this picture is actually the first known record of the elusive oncilla in this park.
5. Pink Hippo
No you’re not drunk! This is a Pink HIPPO, not elephant, and extremely rare. This aerial photo, taken by photographer Marc Mol in November of 2011, captures the unique mammal attempting to blend in with his/her normal-hued relatives while bathing in waters in South Luangwa, Zambia, Africa. Contrary to popular belief the unusual hippopotamus is not albino, but leucistic, a condition where the pigmentation of cells in an animal fail to develop properly. While that could prove extremely dangerous for the survival of most animals—leaving them more visible to predators and at risk of sunburn—the hippos’ tremendous size allows them to defend themselves against attackers, while their sweat works as a natural sunscreen.
6. Right Whale
The right whale is the rarest of all whales in the world. It’s no wonder since in more than sixty years the majestic creature has been spotted only twice in British Columbia waters, with the most recent sighting on October 26th 2013. The discovered endangered animal is approximately fifty-six feet long and was seen near Victoria, BC mixing it up with a group of humpback whales. It’s currently estimated that less than fifty right whales live in the eastern North Pacific.
7. Florida Panther
There’s nothing like a mother’s love and that’s obvious in this photo of a Florida panther carrying her cub to their new den. This rare sighting was captured last year by motion-sensitive camera traps. What’s so amazing is there are at most 160 of these endangered big cats, with this being the first uncollared female ever photographed. Many Florida panthers carry radio collars that allow biologists to track their movements. Although they still enjoy a relatively high birth rate, the cats seem to die as quickly as they breed. The most common cause is being struck by a motor vehicle, and the rapid development of Florida’s wild habitat is only expected to make things worse.
These photos are definitely cute and fun to see, but even more importantly they’re helping us discover more about these elusive endangered animals. Any new information we learn will help scientists, politicians, and individuals make better decisions on how to best protect these species and their survival.
— Lisa Singer, exclusive to Global Animal