Endangered Species

English Vocabulary

The world is full of magnificent and fascinating animals and creatures. Unfortunately many of them are endangered species which means that there are not many of them remaining in the world and there is a danger of them becoming extinct.

Below are some examples of endangered species.

Polar Bears

The Polar Bear is one of the many unique animals in the world. It has a beautiful white coat of fur for camouflage - partly for protection but largely to allow it to sneak up on its prey. Their typical prey are seals. The Polar Bear's coat also has guard hairs that are water repellent (they are excellent swimmers) and a dense underfur for warmth. But under their fur, polar bears have black skin to soak up the sun's warming rays. Other specialized characteristics of the Polar Bear are short and furred snout, short ears, teeth specialized for eating meat rather than for an omnivorous diet, and hair that covers the bottom of their feet. A full grown adult male Polar Bear will weigh approximately 650 kgs while a female will weigh about half as much to as little as a third as much. The Polar Bear can only be found in the Northern Hemisphere.


Tigers are the largest member of the cat family and are renowned for their power and strength. They are in general nocturnal hunters and their striking markings enable them to blend in easily with their habitat. In the wild, tigers generally feed on larger and medium sized animals such as deer, water buffalo, wild boar and tapirs. Tigers hunt alone and ambush their prey like other cats do, overpowering them from any angle, using their body size and strength to knock large prey off balance. They are native to Asia but unfortunately hunting and forest destruction have reduced the tiger population to less than 2,500 today and they are now considered an endangered species. Tigers are hunted as trophies, and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine.


Whales are large, magnificent, intelligent, aquatic mammals. They breathe air through a blowhole into their lungs (unlike fish who breathe using gills). Whales have sleek, streamlined bodies that move easily through the water. They are the only mammals, other than dugongs (manatees) that live their entire lives in the water, and the only mammals that have adapted to life in the open oceans. They are the biggest animal in the world (some as tall as a nine-storey building), even bigger than any of the dinosaurs were. Many whales migrate over long distances every year, sometimes in groups (pods), from cold water feeding grounds to warm water breeding grounds. Some whale species are endangered because of hunting that still exists in countries such as Japan and Norway.


Gorillas are the largest of the living primates and very closely related to humans. They live in the forests of Africa and move by walking on their knuckles. Their lifespan is between 30-50 years and they are omnivores that eat fruit, leaves, shoots and sometimes insects. One other characteristic they share with humans is that they have individual finger prints. Silverbacks (adult male gorillas) are the strong troop leaders. Each silverback typically leads a group of between 5-30 gorillas and is the centre of attention. they make all the decision, mediate conflicts, determine the movement of the group, lead the others to feeding sites and take responsibility for the safety and well-being of the troop. Gorillas are considered and endangered species and have been the subject of intense poaching for many years.


The koala is a marsupial that is native to Australia. They live most of their lives in the eucalyptus trees of Australia and it is the only leaf that they eat. They do not drink but instead obtain the moisture they need from the eucalypt leaves. Because of the low protein content in these leaves and their slow metabolic rate, the koala usually sleeps for 19 hours per day. Contrary to popular belief their fur is coarse and not soft and cuddly. They are sometimes mistakenly called koala bears, but, in fact they are not members of the bear family. In recent years the koala population has come under threat from the ever increasing encroachment of humans into their habitat and the appearance of a disease, Chlamydia, for which there is no known cure.

Andean Condor

The Andean Condor is a vulture-like species of bird. It is one of the largest flying birds and inhabits the open grasslands and alpine areas in high mountain regions of western South America. The adult condor is of a uniform black, with the exception of a fill of white feathers nearly surrounding the base of the neck and, especially in the males, large patches or bands of white on the wings. it has a wing span of up to 3.5 meters and can soar incredibly gracefully up to heights of 5000 metres. They are experts at using the updrafts created by the mountains and valleys to cover large areas while foraging. Many condors have died from the pesticides that are carried through the food chains. The number of Andean Condors has decreased rapidly in recent years but rescue attempts are being made through captive-breeding programs.

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