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Species threatened in every habitat on every continent

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 will have disappeared forever. And by this time next year, over 50,000 more.
This alarming rate of extinction is 100-1,000 times, and perhaps even 11,000 times, greater than the expected natural rate.

One in four of the world’s mammals are now threatened with extinction in the near future. So are one in eight birds, one in five sharks, one in four coniferous trees, and one in three amphibians.

By and large, the cause of this decline is human activities. The land we use for living space, farming, mineral and aggregate extraction, fuel; the things we buy; and the waste we produce – all these contribute to the main causes of species loss:
  • Habitat loss
  • Unsustainable trade
  • Poaching
  • By catch
  • Climate change
  • Invasive species
  • Pollution
  • Human-animal conflicts
Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) mother with youngster, captive, Chimfunshi Orphanage, Zambia

© Rouse / WWF

Concerted efforts are needed to protect threatened species in Zambia whose survival cannot be guaranteed by conserving their habitat alone.
WWF Zambia is focusing efforts on a select group of priority species that are especially important, either for their ecosystem services or functions...
  • Species forming a key element of the food chain
  • Species which help the stability or regeneration of habitats
  • Species demonstrating broader conservation needs
...or for people
  • Species important for the health and livelihoods of local communities
  • Species exploited commercially
  • Species that are important cultural icons.

These species fall into two groups:

  • Flagship species - iconic species that provide a focus for raising awareness and stimulating action and funding for broader conservation efforts. These include: Elephant, Leopard, Rhino – African black and white, Tiger, Wild dog, Lion, and Cheetah.
  • Footprint-impacted species - species whose populations are primarily threatened because of unsustainable harvest practices, e.g., wildlife poaching, illegal logging and overfishing. These include Zambezi teak, Ansell’s shrew, Black lechwe, Shoebill, Southern ground hornbill, Devils craw.
Strategically focusing efforts on these species will also help conserve the many other species which share their habitats and/or are vulnerable to the same threats.

2020 Species Goal

By 2020, populations of the most ecologically, economically and culturally important species are restored and thriving in the wild.

Cheetahs have retained their spots, despite living primarily in open habitats

© AP


There are five species of rhinoceros. These include the black rhino and white rhino in Africa and the greater one-horned rhino, Javan rhino, and Sumatran rhino in Asia. The Black Rhino population in Zambia was completely wiped out between 1970 and 1980s and became extinct.

This was as a result of increased poaching levels because rhino horn was valued for Chinese medicines and other uses like jewelry and knife handles. Until recently, as a result of conservation efforts, their numbers are slowly rising following reintroduction and restocking efforts in the Mosi-O-Tunya Game Park near Victoria Falls and North Luangwa National Park.
A black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in Zimbabwe.

© WWF / Martin Harvey

African wild dog
African wild dog in South Luangwa, Eastern province, Zambia © Frans Schepers/WWF

The African wild dog is not only one of the endangered species in Zambia but also in Africa. The major threat to African wild dogs in Zambia is snaring and human wild life conflict. Their  feeding habits which involve moving from one place to another in search for food exposes them to risk of snaring.

As a result of their movements, it is hard to confine the African wild dog in protected areas such as parks. Usually when they leave the parks to find food on local farms, they are killed by farmers to protect their livestock.

WWF is involved in the conservation of African wild dogs in Zambia in partnership with the Zambia Carnivores Project(ZCP). ZCP's conservation interventions in South Luangwa involves restoring the populations of African wild dogs through human wildlife conflict mitigation and de-snaring. ZCP receives support and funding through WWF Zambia from WWF Netherlands.

African elephant

The African elephant though currently listed as near threatened is also listed on the IUCN red list as an endangered species. Elephants in Zambia are still hunted for their tasks and their populations have been dwindling because of poaching.

Elephant-Human conflict is another factor contributing to the dwindling of elephant populations in Zambia as the animals are killed in retaliation when they kill people and destroy their crops.
African elephant (Loxodonta africana) bull with large tusks, Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

© Martin Harvey / WWF