35 Percent of the World’s ‘National Animals’ Are Threatened With Extinction

A giraffe in Tanzania. Image: Richard Toller/Flickr
The US bald eagle is doing fine. The Central American tapir of Belize? Not so much.

By Lisa Cumming | MOTHERBOARD

Just about every country has a national animal, a symbol that is widely recognized and a source of pride, whether it’s the bald eagle (the national bird in the US), the beaver (in Canada), or the Central American tapir (that’s Belize).

Around the world, 35 per cent of the world’s symbolic national animals are threatened with extinction—and only 16 percent are receiving protection from their respective countries, according to a new paper from University of Miami researchers Austin Gallagher and Neil Hammerschlag.

In Canada, we’re lucky that our beavers are still plentiful. The US bald eagle is also safe, though it was once threatened with extinction. But the giraffe, the dugong, and the Central American tapir—which are national animals of Tanzania, Papua New Guinea and Belize, respectively— are all either vulnerable or threatened with extinction today, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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