In the 1980s the number of giant pandas in China hovered around 1,100. Now, after decades of focused conservation, giant pandas have been crossed off the endangered list. Habitat preservation, anti-poaching efforts, and advances in captive-breeding programs can offer a lifeline to the most endangered members of the biosphere. In 2019 a total of 10 creatures showed improved status on the list of threatened species produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Many more need help, including these animals that conservationists are trying to pull back from the brink.
Poaching and human encroachment have left fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos in the world—a drop of more than 70 percent compared with 20 years ago. To stave off extinction, conservation groups, including the National Geographic Society, stepped in to relocate rhinos into sanctuaries and monitor the last wild rhinos in Indonesia. Births in captivity have brought hope that more breeding programs can save the species.
This tiny, long-haired monkey lives only in the tropical forests of Colombia, where agriculture and urban growth have led to a significant population drop in the past few decades. Proyecto Titi strives to reverse this: From 2011 to 2018, the organization, which is supported by the Disney Conservation Fund, protected nearly 14,000 acres of the monkey’s habitat, launched education programs, and opened new reserves and field sites to build up the population. (The Walt Disney Company is majority owner of National Geographic Partners.)