It may be surprising to know that Mexico is home to a tenth of all land species having one of the most diverse countries, biologically speaking, on earth. Mexico has been said to have the fourth highest number of mammal species anywhere in the world, at roughly 523 so if habitats become threatened more species will be affected. It is estimated that in excess of 30 species are already deemed extinct, so the preservation of the hundreds of endangered remaining animals is vital. What though is giving rise to these alarming statistics? As was already mentioned, habitat loss is one of the biggest problems facing many of these animals. There is not one single aspect of this, so we need to be aware of the variety of ways this can occur. Habitat loss usually comes through human activity, so it is hard to counter when the development of a nation is at stake.
Agriculture is a major threat to many endangered species and similarly logging which can destroy great swathes of forest. Also, the development of land for commercial or residential purposes is undoubtedly an escalating factor impacting many of the larger mammals under threat. So, these are some of the reasons why many species are threatened. The loss of habitat changes the animals’ ability to hunt, forage, breed successfully and thus flourish. But which animals in particular are considered endangered and what does this really imply for us? The forests of Mexico are home to numerous monkeys. The black howling monkey typically found in the lowland tropical forest areas is under threat from hunting, deforestation and unfortunately disease. The distinctive howl, from which these monkeys get their name, is produced by a special chamber in its voice box.
The mantled howler monkey, so named for its long golden hair on the sides of its head is also at risk with the loss of habitat that supplies the much-needed fruits and leaves. Large cats like the stunning jaguar, the largest cat in Mexico, are under threat from the loss of habitat in the low land rain forest. Mexican bobcats too face a similar fate in the more central regions of the country. Marine life is not exempt from harm and the Vaquita, a species of porpoise found in the Gulf of California, is fast diminishing in number.
The Coahuilan Box Turtle that likes to inhabit marshland in the region that gave it its name will often travel to the desert in the rainy season but has become increasingly under threat. With the demise of the rain forest so too we see the decline of such magnificent creatures as the harpy eagle, a majestic bird weighing up to 20 pounds as an adult and with a wingspan of 6 1/2 feet. But size is no protection for even the smallest of creatures cannot escape the consequences of a developing country whose deforestation and other activities may soon eliminate more species. The short-crested coquette, a tiny hummingbird, lives in a small area in Guerrero.
This magnificently coloured bird less than 5 inches long could soon be a thing of the past! It is sad to say that a desire for exotic pets has also endangered some animals. Small monkeys in particular are targets but some of these like the spider monkey are essential to the environment as they help to disperse seeds throughout the forest from the mainly fruit diet it consumes and digests. Sadly, most of the threatened mammals are ones only found in Mexico so if they are lost from here they will never be seen again. A prime example of that is the San Quintin kangaroo rat which hasn’t been sighted since 1986 so although listed as critically endangered might actually already be extinct. Virtually all this little creature’s suitable habitat has been turned over to agriculture. Let’s hope that it lives