WWF priority species | WWF

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WWF PRIORITY SPECIES

© Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com

Wildlife is disappearing on every continent, in every ocean, on land and underwater. The fate of the world’s wildlife is in the hands of just one species: Homo sapiens.

WHAT IS AT STAKE?

Our planet’s wildlife is in crisis – numbers have fallen by more than half since 1970, and species are going extinct at an alarming rate. Human activities threaten wildlife in two main ways: by destroying and damaging the places where species live, and by exploiting species in ways that are unsustainable.

We want to see wildlife thriving. We don't want skeletal, starving polar bears struggling to survive. We don't want rhinos – who once roamed in herds even in Europe – to be hunted: today very few of them survive outside the protected areas of Africa and Asia.

We want whales to continue communicating with their complex and mysterious sounds in all the world’s oceans, and the sea turtles and sharks who have played a vital role in marine habitats for hundreds of millions of years to be safe again.

We work with many partners to achieve this – seeking to protect plant and animal species by tackling the causes of the threats to their survival.

Did you know?

Pandas eat for around 14 hours a day, consuming up to 38kg of bamboo.

© naturepl.com LYNN M. STONE WWF

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Our efforts have already helped achieve major successes for wildlife.

The giant panda, symbol of WWF since 1961, has also become an instantly recognisable symbol for species conservation. While its numbers are slowly increasing, the giant panda remains one of the rarest and most endangered bears in the world.

There are more big wildlife wins. Tiger numbers are rising for the first time in over a century, the Irrawaddy dolphin population is increasing after decades of decline, and more and more countries in Asia are banning sales of elephant ivory.

But we need to do much more to stop and reverse the decline in the world’s wildlife. Ultimately, our own well-being and survival depend upon this.

Wild tiger numbers have increased for the first time globally! There are now estimated to be around 3,900 tigers in the wild.

© Souvik Kundu / WWF

WWF’s most iconic species

Tigers are the largest species of cat and one of the most iconic animals on the planet. There may have been over 100,000 tigers about a century ago. By 2010 less than 3,200 of them were left.

But, there is hope. Together with WWF’s global program “doubling wild tigers” all 13 tiger range governments have committed to the most ambitious conservation goal set for a single species – to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger.

Meanwhile, in the far north, the survival of the world's largest terrestrial carnivore the polar bear is also under threat. Due to climate change, the arctic ice is melting and this amazing species, which relies on sea ice to hunt, eat and store energy for the summer is facing an alarming plight. Each year the ice begins to melt earlier, and each extra week of melting ice means bears lose roughly 10kg – which explains those heart breaking photos of starving polar bears.

Orangutans are “gardeners” of the forest, playing a vital role in seed dispersal.

© Fletcher & Baylis / WWF-Indonesia

TOP 10

Many more amazing species need our help. We focus on 10 clusters of priority species, from big cats to great apes to vultures.

The 10 clusters are:

Bears (including the giant panda)
Big cats
Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises)
Elephants
Great apes
Marine turtles
Rhinos
Sharks and rays
Sturgeons
Vultures

In addition to these 10 priority clusters, we work to protect many other species across the globe.

Unlike other large cats, snow leopards cannot roar. They can purr, mew, hiss, growl, moan, yowl and make a non-aggressive puffing sound called a 'chuff'.

© naturepl.com / Andy Rouse / WWF

WHAT YOU CAN DO

In the time it takes you to read this page, one of our planet’s unique species will become extinct. By this time tomorrow, a further 150–200 species will have disappeared forever.
And by this time next year, over 50,000 more.

Together with you, we can help them!

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