Probably the Bluefin tuna. It is expected to be extinct by next year (2012) because of over-fishing. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is also to blame for their decreasing numbers, as the Gulf was one of only two breeding grounds for this fish in the world.
While the population of bluefin tuna that breeds in the Gulf of Mexico is certainly declining, there is nothing in the article cited, nor anywhere else that I can find, that suggests that this population is likely to become extinct in 2012. In fact, with a population estimated at 9000 and a lifespan of 40 years, it would be pretty unlikely. In addition, while the threat is intense to this population, there are other larger populations of the species, so the species is definitely not about to go extinct. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declined to list the northern bluefin (same as the Atlantic bluefin) as endangered in 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_bluefin_tuna
You’re right, that does sound like an alarmist statement to say that the Bluefin tuna could be extinct by next year. I should have been clearer about that. I am not sure that I would automatically trust a source such as Wikipedia, though – it has come under scrutiny multiple times as a reliable source of information. To clarify my answer, I would say please refer to this site: http://shemcreeksc.com/blog/bluefin-tuna-extinct-by-2012/.
The iberian lynx is also on the verge of extinction, with only 2 small breeding grounds left in Southern Spain. There are only about 100 individuals remaining, with only 38 of them being breeding females.
There are only 60 remaining Javan rhinos today, which is largely attributed to poaching and the lucrative prices that their horns garner on the market. Currently, it’s listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. What is particularly problematic is that this species is a prolific reproducer – approximately one Javan rhino is born every year. That’s not enough to compensate for the killings perpetrated by poachers in the wild, and there’s also a worrisome report from Vietnam that those rhinos have ceased to breed at all.
If we are talking about really well known species, I believe the giant panda is in jeopardy. For a long time breeding programs have been set up for these animals and it has taken so much effort for the Pandas to produce offspring. The only way a species can survive is for procreation to be a success.
Every time a Panda in captivity is able to hold on to a pregnancy, there is always a great commotion surrounding it. Anything that demands such great attention is doomed to fail. While Panda populations may be able to thrive in the wild, there habitat is becoming too badly damaged for that to become a reality.
It will be interesting to see if breeding techniques will gain greater success in the future.
This may not be especially well-known, which is liable to be one of the factors influencing its decline, but the asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) is projected to have fewer than 400 remaining members. In the Gir reserve in India, resources are few and tensions high between the surrounding villages and the lions. A minor shift in the government’s current regulations or the fairweather truce between people in lions could result in utter decimation of a vary rare felid.
Another extremely fascinating and rare specimen is the Death valley Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis), which following climatic changes could also be entirely wiped out.
Polar bears are a very well-known animal that is in high risk of extinction, some say as early as 2050. Their habitat is melting, forcing them to swim ever increasing distances between land while in search for food. Many of them are drowning.
I think African elephant are more endangered since they are no longer found in large numbers.
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