Thanks to passionate conservationists, animals, such as tigers and black rhinos, have been brought back from the edge of extinction. Other animals, at-risk to an array of threats, get much-needed protection, too. To continue to support work being done to save species, here are 12 videos that bring you closer to animals in the wild–where we hope they stay.
This video tells the story about Baim, a baby orangutan found abandoned in the forests of Borneo. Sadly, his mother was likely poached; it’s not common for mothers to separate from their babies for the first eight years. Numbers have declined dramatically for the Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. Around 100 years ago, an estimated 230,000 individual orangutans roamed the forests of Asia; today, that number hovers around 41,000.
WWF member Richard Jacobs and his grandson Zach were lucky enough to have this 400-pound creature join them for a few laps in the sea. Sea lions are listed as endangered; survey numbers show a 50 percent decline since 1978.
Though extremely rare to see in the wild, snow leopards have been spotted on camera trap videos in the mountains of Baatarkhairkhan in western Mongolia. There are believed to be fewer than 7,000 snow leopards in the wild and they are considered endangered. A WWF study anticipates habitat loss between 10 percent to 30 percent because of climate change and its effects on the Himalayan treeline.
China has established 50 panda reserves covering 3.8 million acres of forest. However, this still only protects 61 percent of the current panda population. Scientists estimate there are fewer than 1,600 individual giant pandas left in the wild. Habitat loss and fragmentation are their primary threats. Pandas are tough to see in the wild, but travelers have the rare chance to visit a research base and nature reserve and see them up close.
A coral reef is considered the largest living organism on the planet, and marine animals and plants depend on reefs for a healthy existence. Unfortunately this ecosystem is threatened by rising sea levels, ocean acidification and warmer temperatures that cause coral bleaching. Seize the chance to see coral firsthand in such spots as Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Archipelago, the Philippines, Belize and Hawaii.
The critically endangered Sumatran rhino can be found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Demand for rhino horn has increased the threat of poaching and the conversion of forested homes into palm oil and timber plantations. On WWF and Nat Hab’s Wilds of Borneo tour, travelers visit the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah. It was in Sabah where WWF researchers found the largest known population of elusive Sumatran rhinos left in the world.
This traveler video shows a display of dominance between giant tortoises on the Galapagos. The vulnerable giant tortoise is the largest in the world, growing to 700 pounds. Travelers have to chance to see these giants tortoises interacting when traveling with WWF and Nat Hab to the Galapagos on Santa Cruz Island.
Our guide Brad Josephs captured this footage of polar bears sparring near the Hudson Bay in Canada. Sparring is actually play behavior between polar bear and can help them develop skills to survive, feed and breed. Polar bears are considered vulnerable because of climate change and its effect on their sea ice habitat. The Hudson Bay near Churchill, Canada provides one of the best opportunities to see these creatures in the wild.
This baby Sumatran elephant caught the eye of researchers as she practiced using her trunk. There are estimated to be about 2,400 Sumatran elephants and 1,600 Borneo pygmy elephants left in the wild.
The Mekong River winds its way through six countries and we paddle through three of them–Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia–on our tour, hoping to spot the vulnerable Irrawaddy dolphin. Only 78 to 91 individuals are estimated to exist. Their existence is threatened by bycatch, the accidental capture of aquatic animals in fishing gear. Dolphin-watching ecotourism is an important source of income for these communities.
Lemurs can only be found in Madagascar and the Comoros Islands. NHA Conservation Travel Specialist Court Whelan captured this footage on our Madagascar Wildlife Adventure of the near threatened ring-tailed lemurs whose population has decreased by about 25 percent as the quality of their rain forest home has decreased.
The whale shark is a filter feeder, swimming with its mouth wide open to allow plankton and other tiny fish to filter through. Though it might be hard to tell in this footage, its mouth can stretch to almost five feet, but they are harmless to humans. Whales sharks can be sighted along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mesoamerican Reef and in waters surrounding the Philippines, among other spots. This migratory species is considered vulnerable as they are often victims of accidental capture in fishing gear and their fins, oil and meat are still highly valued on international markets. Responsible viewing of whale sharks is one way to value these gentle creatures alive rather than dead.